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The Crisis Of Democracy 

Michel Crozier 

Samuel P. Huntington 

Joji Watanuki 

Report on the Governability of Democracies 
to the Trilateral Commission 

Published by 
New York University Press 

The Trilateral Commission was formed in 1973 by private citizens of 
Western Europe, Japan, and North America to foster closer cooperation 
among these three regions on common problems. It seeks to improve 
public understanding of such problems, to support proposals for han- 
dling them jointly, and to nurture habits and practices of working 
together among these regions. 

Clothbound editions of Columbia University Press books 

are Smyth-sewn and printed on permanent 

and durable acid-free paper. 

Copyright ® 1975 by The Trilateral Commission 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 75-27167 
ISBN: 0-8147-1364-5 (cloth) 
0-8147-1305-3 (paper) 

Manufactured in the United States of America 
9 8 7 6 5 


Is democracy in crisis? This question is being posed with 
increasing urgency by some of the leading statesmen of the 
West, by columnists and scholars, and— if public opinion polls 
are to be trusted— even by the publics. In some respects, the 
mood of today is reminiscent of that of the early twenties, 
when the views of Oswald Spengler regarding "The Decline of 
the West" were highly popular. This pessimism is echoed, 
with obvious Schadenfreude, by various communist ob- 
servers, who speak with growing confidence of "the general 
crisis of capitalism" and who see in it the confirmation of 
their own theories. 

The report which follows is not a pessimistic document. Its 
authors believe that, in a fundamental sense, the democratic 
systems are viable. They believe, furthermore, that democra- 
cies can work provided their publics truly understand the 
nature of the democratic system, and particularly if they are 
sensitive to the subtle interrelationship between liberty and 
responsibility. Their discussion of "The Crisis of Democracy" 
is designed to make democracy stronger as it grows and be- 
comes more and more democratic. Their conclusions-doubt- 
less in some respects provocative— are designed to serve that 
overriding objective. 

The Trilateral Commission decided to undertake this 
project because it has felt, rightly in my view, that the vital- 
ity of our political systems is a central precondition for the 
shaping of a stable international order and for the fashioning 
of more cooperative relations among our regions. Though 
very much concerned with issues pertaining to foreign affairs, 
trilateral as well as East -West and North-South, the Trilateral 
Commission has promoted the study which follows in the 
belief that at this juncture it is important for the citizens of 
our democracies to reexamine the basic premises and the 

workings of our systems. This rethinking can contribute, it is 
our hope, to the promotion of the central purposes of the 
democratic system of government: the combination of per- 
sonal liberty with the enhancement of social progress. 

This report has been prepared for the Trilateral Commis- 
sion and is released under its auspices. The Commission is 
making the report available for wider distribution as a contri- 
bution to informed discussion and handling of the issues 
treated. The report was discussed at the Trilateral Commis- 
sion meetings in Kyoto, Japan, on May 30-31, 1975. The 
authors, who are experts from North America, Western 
Europe and Japan, have been free to present their own views. 

The report is the joint responsibility of the three rappor- 
teurs of the Trilateral Commission's Task Force on the 
Governability of Democracies, which was set up in the spring 
of 1974 and which submitted its report in the spring of 1975. 
The chapter on Japan is the work of Joji Watanuki. The 
chapter on Western Europe is the work of Michel Crozier. 
The chapter on the United States is the work of Samuel P. 

Although only the three authors are responsible for 
the analysis and conclusions, they were aided in their task by 
consultations with experts from the trilateral regions. In each 
case, consultants spoke for themselves as individuals and not 
as representatives of any institutions with which they are 
associated. Those consulted included the following: 

Robert R. Bowie, Professor of International Affairs, 
Harvard University 

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Director, The Trilateral Commission 

James Cornford, Professor of Politics, University of Edin- 

George S. Franklin, North American Secretary, The Tri- 
lateral Commission 

Donald M. Fraser, United States House of Representatives 

Karl Kaiser, Director, Research Institute of the German 

Society for Foreign Policy 
Seymour Martin Lipset, Professor of Sociology, Harvard 

John Meisel, Professor of Political Science, Queen's Uni- 
Erwin Scheuch, Professor of Political Science, University 

of Cologne 
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Professor of Humanities, The 

City University of New York 
Gerard C. Smith, North American Chairman, The Trilateral 

Yasumasa Tanaka, Professor of Political Science, Gak- 

ushuin University 
Tadashi Yamamoto, Japanese Secretary, The Trilateral 


In the course of its work, the task force held a number of 
joint meetings: 

April 20-21, 1974— Rapporteurs and Brzezinski met in Palo 
Alto, California, to develop general outline of report. 

November 11-12, 1974-Rapporteurs and Brzezinski met in 
London to consider first drafts of regional chapters and 
establish more precise outline of study. 

February 22-23, 1975— Rapporteurs met with experts from 
Trilateral regions in New York City, considered second 
drafts of regional chapters and draft of Introduction. 

May 31, 1975— Full draft of study debated in plenary meet- 
ing of The Trilateral Commission in Kyoto. 

I would like to express our appreciation for the energy and 
dedication shown by Charles Heck and Gertrude Werner in 
preparing this book for publication. 

Zbigniew Brzezinski 


The Trilateral Commission 


MICHEL CROZIER is the founder and director of the 
Centre de Sociologie des Organisations in Paris and Senior 
Research Director of the Centre Nationale de la Recherche 
Scientifique. Born in 1922 in northern France, Professor 
Crozier received his higher education at the University of 
Paris. He has been a regular consultant to the French govern- 
ment on matters of economic planning, education, and public 
administration. He -has lectured and taught at a number of 
North American universities, including three years at Harvard 
(1966-67, 1968-70) and two years at the Center for Ad- 
vanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford 
(1959-60, 1973-74). Among the books which Professor 
Crozier has written are The Bureaucratic Phenomenon (1964) 
and The Stalled Society (1970). He was President of the 
French Sociological Association in 1970-72. 

SAMUEL P. HUNTINGTON is Frank G. Thomson Profes- 
sor of Government at Harvard University and Associate 
Director of Harvard's Center for International Affairs. He is 
also a founder and editor of the quarterly journal, Foreign 
Policy. Born in 1927 in New York City, Professor Hunting- 
ton was educated at Yale University (B.A., 1946), the Uni- 
versity of Chicago (M.A., 1949), and Harvard University 
(Ph.D., 1951). He taught at Harvard University from 1950 to 
1958, then was Associate Director of the Institute of War and 
Peace Studies at Columbia University from 1959 to 1962, 
when he returned to Harvard. Professor Huntington has been 
a consultant to the Policy Planning Council of the Depart- 
ment of State, the Agency for International Development, 
the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and other or- 
ganizations. Among the books which he has written are 
Political Order in Changing Societies (1968) and The Com- 
mon Defense: Strategic Programs in National Politics (1961). 

He is coauthor with Zbigniew Brzezinski of Political Power: 
USA/USSR (1964). 

JOJI WATANUKI is Professor of Sociology at Sophia Uni- 
versity (Tokyo), where he is associated with the Institute of 
International Relations for Advanced Studies on Peace and 
Development in Asia. Born in 1931 , in Los Angeles, Professor 
Watanuki received his undergraduate and graduate education 
at the University of Tokyo. He taught in the Department of 
Sociology of the University of Tokyo from 1960 to 1971, 
when he joined the Sophia University faculty. Professor 
Watanuki has spent a number of years teaching and doing 
research at universities in the United States. He was at Prince- 
ton University-in 1962-63 (Rockefeller Foundation Fellow 
and Visiting Fellow) and at the University of California at 
Berkeley in 1963-64 (Research Associate at Institute of In- 
ternational Studies). He was a Visiting Professor in the De- 
partment of Political Science at the University of Iowa in 
1969-70, and a Senior Scholar in the Communications Insti- 
tute of the East-West Center in Honolulu in 1973. Professor 
Watanuki has written numerous articles and books. Among 
the latter are Gendai Seiji to Shakai Hendo [Contemporary 
Politics and Social Change] (1962) and Nihon no Seiji Shakai 
[Japanese Political Society] (1967). 



I. The Current Pessimism About Democracy 

II. The Challenges Confronting Democratic 

by Michel Crozier 

I. Are European Democracies Becoming 
Ungovernable? 11 

1 . The Overload of the Decision-Making Systems 

2. Bureaucratic Weight and Civic Irresponsibility 

3. The European Dimension 

II. Social, Economic and Cultural Causes 20 

1 . The Increase of Social Interaction 

2. The Impact of Economic Growth 

3. The Collapse of Traditional Institutions 

4. The Upsetting of the Intellectual World 

5. The Mass Media 

6. Inflation 

III. The Role and Structure of Political Values 39 

1 . The Values Structure and the Problem 
of Rationality 

2. Core Political Beliefs 

3. The Impact of Social, Economic and Cultural 
Changes on the Principles of Rationality and 
on the Core Political Beliefs 

4. Traditional Factors as a Counterweight 

5. The Risks of Social and Political Regression 

IV. Conclusions: European Vulnerability 52 

by Samuel P. Huntington 

I. The Viability and Governability of American 
Democracy 59 

II. The Expansion of Governmental Activity 65 

III. The Decline in Governmental Authority 74 

1 . The Democratic Challenge to Authority 

2. Decline in Public Confidence and Trust 

3. The Decay of the Party System 

|4. The Shifting Balance Between Government 
and Opposition 

IV. The Democratic Distemper: Consequences 102 

V. The Democratic Distemper: Causes 106 

VI. Conclusion: Toward a Democratic Balance 113 

by Joji Watanuki 

I. Japanese Democracy's Governability 119 

1 . External Conditions 

2. Domestic Conditions and Capabilities 

II. Changing Values, New Generations and 
Their Impact on the Governability of 

Japanese Democracy 138 

1 . Political Beliefs 

2. Social and Economic Values 

III. Consequences for and Future Perspectives on the 
Governability of Japanese Democracy 149 

1 . Time Lag 

2. Decline of Leadership and Delay of 

3. Vagaries of Urban, Educated Nonpartisans 

4. The Place of the Communists in the 
Multiparty System 

5. What Will Happen in the 1980s? 


I. The Changing Context of Democratic 
Government 157 

II. Consensus Without Purpose: The Rise 

of Anomic Democracy 158 

III. The Dysfunctions of Democracy 161 

1 . The Delegitimation of Authority 

2. The Overloading of Government 

3. The Disaggregation of Interests 

4. Parochialism in International Affairs 

IV. Variations Among Regions 168 


Appendix I— Discussion of Study during Plenary Meeting of 
The Trilateral Commission— Kyoto, May 31, 1975 173 

A. Arenas for Action 

B. Excerpts of Remarks by Ralf Dahrendorf 

C. Discussion of the Study 

Appendix II— Canadian Perspectives on the Governability of 
Democracies— Discussion in Montreal, May 16, 1975 . . . .203 




For almost a quarter-century the Trilateral countries have 
shared a tripartite interest in military security, economic 
development, and political democracy. They have 
coordinated their efforts to provide for their common 
defense. They have cooperated together in the tasks of 
economic reconstruction, industrial development, and the 
promotion of trade, investment, and welfare within a 
framework of common international economic institutions. 
They have brought the comforts— and the anxieties— of 
middle-class status to a growing majority of their peoples. In 
somewhat parallel fashion, they have, also, each in its own 
way, developed and consolidated their own particular forms 
of political democracy, involving universal suffrage, regular 
elections, party competition, freedom of speech and 
assembly. After twenty-five years, it is not surprising that 
earlier assumptions and policies relating to military security 
need to be reviewed and altered in the light of the changed 
circumstances. Nor is it surprising that the policies and 
institutions of the postwar economic system based on the 
preeminence of the dollar are in need of a drastic overhaul. 
Governments, after all, have traditionally existed to deal with 

2 The Crisis of Democracy 

problems of security and economics, and, individually and 
collectively, to adapt their policies in these areas to changing 

What is much more disturbing, because it is more 
surprising, is the extent to which it appears that the process 
of reconsideration must extend not only to these familiar 
arenas of governmental policy but also to the basic 
institutional framework through which governments govern. 
What are in doubt today are not just the economic and 
military policies but also the political institutions inherited 
from the past. Is political democracy, as it exists today, a 
viable form of government for the industrialized countries of 
Europe, North America, and Asia? Can these countries 
continue to function during the final quarter of the twentieth 
century with the forms of political democracy which they 
evolved during the third quarter of that century? 

In recent years, acute observers on all three continents 
have seen a bleak future for democratic government. Before 
leaving office, Willy Brandt was reported to believe that 
"Western Europe has only 20 or 30 more years of democracy 
left in it; after that it will slide, engineless and rudderless, 
under the surrounding sea of dictatorship, and whether the 
dictation comes from a politburo or a junta will not make 
that much difference." If Britain continues to be unable to 
resolve the seemingly unresolvable problems of 
inflation-cum-prospective depression, observed one senior 
British official, "parliamentary democracy would ultimately 
be replaced by a dictatorship." "Japanese democracy will 
collapse," warned Takeo Miki in his first days in office, 
unless major reforms can be carried out and "the people's 
confidence in politics" be restored. 1 The image which recurs 
in these and other statements is one of the disintegration of 
civil order, the breakdown of social discipline, the debility of 
leaders, and the alienation of citizens. Even what have been 
thought to be the most civic of industrialized societies have 

Introduction 3 

been held to be prey to these disabilities, as observers speak 
of the Vietnam ization of America and the Italianization of 

This pessimism about the future of democracy has 
coincided with a parallel pessimism about the future of 
economic conditions. Economists have rediscovered the 
fifty-year Kondratieff cycle, according to which 1971 (like 
1921) should have marked the beginning of a sustained 
economic downturn from which the industrialized capitalist 
world would not emerge until close to the end of the 
century. The implication is that just as the political 
developments of the 1920s and 1930s furnished the 
ironic— and tragic— aftermath to a war fought to make the 
world safe for democracy, so also the 1970s and 1980s might 
furnish a similarly ironic political aftermath to twenty years 
of sustained economic development designed in part to make 
the world prosperous enough for democracy. 

Social thought in Western Europe and North America 
tends to go through Pollyanna and Cassandra phases. The 
prevalence of pessimism today does not mean that this 
pessimism necessarily is well founded. That such pessimism 
has not been well founded in the past also does not mean that 
it is necessarily ill founded at present. A principal purpose of 
this report is to identify and to analyze the challenges 
confronting democratic government in today's world, to 
ascertain the bases for optimism or pessimism about the 
future of democracy, and to suggest whatever innovations 
may seem appropriate to make democracy more viable in the 


The current pessimism seems to stem from the conjunction 
of three types of challenges to democratic government. 

4 The Crisis of Democracy 

First, contextual challenges arise autonomously from the 
external environments in which democracies operate and are 
not directly a product of the functioning of democratic 
government itself. The Czechoslovak government, for in- 
stance, is less democratic today than it might otherwise be 
not because of anything over which it had any control. A 
severe reversal in foreign relations, such as either a military 
disaster or diplomatic humiliation, is likely to pose a 
challenge to regime stability. Defeat in war is usually fatal to 
any system of government, including a democratic one. 
(Conversely, the number of regimes in complex societies 
which have been overthrown in circumstances not involving 
foreign defeat is extremely small: all regimes, including 
democratic ones, benefit from a Law of Political Inertia 
which tends to keep them functioning until some external 
force interposes itself.) So, also, worldwide depression or 
inflation may be caused by factors which are external to any 
particular society and which are not caused directly by the 
operation of democratic government; and yet they may 
present serious problems to the functioning of democracy. 
The nature and seriousness of the contextual challenges may 
vary significantly from one country to another, reflecting 
differences in size, history, location, culture, and level of 
development. In combination, these factors may produce few 
contextual challenges to democracy, as was generally the 
case, for instance, in nineteenth-century America, or they 
may create an environment which makes the operation of 
democracy extremely difficult, as for instance in Weimar 

Changes in the international distribution of economic, 
political, and military power and in the relations both among 
the Trilateral societies and between them and the Second and 
Third Worlds now confront the democratic societies with a 
set of interrelated contextual challenges which did not exist 
in the same way a decade ago. The problems of inflation, 
commodity shortages, international monetary stability, the 

Introduction 5 

management of economic interdependence, and collective 
military security affect all the Trilateral societies. They 
constitute the critical policy issues on the agenda for 
collective action. 2 At the same time* however, particular 
issues pose special problems for particular countries. With the 
most active foreign policy of any democratic country, the 
United States is far more vulnerable to defeats in that area 
than other democratic governments, which, attempting less, 
also risk less. Given the relative decline in its military, 
economic, and political influence, the United States is more 
likely to face serious military or diplomatic reversal during 
the coming years than at any previous time in its history. If 
this does occur, it could pose a traumatic shock to American 
democracy. The United States is, on the other hand, 
reasonably well equipped to deal with many economic 
problems which would constitute serious threats to a 
resource-short and trade-dependent country like Japan. 

These contextual challenges would pose major issues of 
policy and institutional innovation in the best of 
circumstances. They arise, however, at a time when 
democratic governments are also confronted with other 
serious problems stemming from the social evolution and 
political dynamics of their own societies. The viability of 
democracy in a country clearly is related to the social 
structure and social trends in that country. A social structure 
in which wealth and learning were concentrated in the hands 
of a very few would not be conducive to democracy; nor 
would a society deeply divided between two polarized ethnic 
or regional groups. In the history of the West, 
industrialization and democratization moved ahead in 
somewhat parallel courses, although in Germany, 
democratization lagged behind industrialization. Outside the 
West, in Japan, the lag was also considerable. In general, 
however, the development of cities and the emergence of the 
bourgeoisie diversified the sources of power, led to the 
assertion of personal and property rights against the state, 

6 The Crisis of Democracy 

and helped to make government more representative of the 
principal groups in society. The power of traditional 
aristocratic groups hostile to democracy tended to decline. 
Subsequently, democratic trends were challenged, in some 
cases successfully, by the rise of fascist movements appealing 
to the economic insecurities and nationalistic impulses of 
lower-middle-class groups, supported by the remaining 
traditional authoritarian structure. Japan also suffered from 
a reactionary military establishment, against which the 
bourgeoisie found itself too weak to struggle and to 
be able to coexist. In addition, in many countries, com- 
munist parties developed substantial strength among the 
working class," advocating the overthrow of "bourgeois 
democracy" in the name of revolutionary socialism. The 
political and organizational legacy of this phase still exists in 
France and Italy, although it is by no means as clear as it 
once was that communist participation in the government of 
either country would necessarily be the prelude to the death 
of democracy there. Thus, at one time or another, threats to 
the viability of democratic government have come from the 
aristocracy, the military, the middle classes, and the working 
class. Presumably, as social evolution occurs, additional 
threats may well arise from other points in the social 

At the present time, a significant challenge comes from the 
intellectuals and related groups who assert their disgust with 
the corruption, materialism, and inefficiency of democracy 
and with the subservience of democratic government to 
"monopoly capitalism." The development of an "adversary 
culture" among intellectuals has affected students, scholars, 
and the media. Intellectuals are, as Schumpeter put it, 
"people who wield the power of the spoken and the written 
word, and one of the touches that distinguish them from 
other people who do the same is the absence of direct 
responsibility for practical affairs." 3 In some measure, the 
advanced industrial societies have spawned a stratum of 

Introduction 7 

value-oriented intellectuals who often devote themselves to 
the derogation of leadership, the challenging of authority, 
and the unmasking and delegitimation of established 
institutions, their behavior contrasting with that of the also 
increasing numbers of technocratic and policy-oriented 
intellectuals. In an age of widespread secondary school and 
university education, the pervasiveness of the mass media, 
and the displacement of manual labor by clerical and 
professional employees, this development constitutes a 
challenge to democratic government which is, potentially at 
least, as serious as those posed in the past by the aristocratic 
cliques, fascist movements, and communist parties. 

In addition to the emergence of the adversary intellectuals 
and their culture, a parallel and possibly related trend 
affecting the viability of democracy concerns broader 
changes in social values. In all three Trilateral regions, a shift 
in values is taking place away from the materialistic 
work-oriented, public-spirited values toward those which 
stress private satisfaction, leisure, and the need for 
"belonging and intellectual and esthetic self-fulfillment." 4 
These values are, of course, most notable in the younger 
generation. They often coexist with greater skepticism 
towards political leaders and institutions and with greater 
alienation from the political processes. They tend to be 
privatistic in their impact and import. The rise of this 
syndrome of values is presumably related to the relative 
affluence in which most groups in the Trilateral societies 
came to share during the economic expansion of the 1960s. 
The new values may not survive recession and resource 
shortages. But if they do, they pose an additional new 
problem for democratic government in terms of its ability to 
mobilize its citizens for the achievement of social and 
political goals and to impose discipline and sacrifice upon its 
citizens in order to achieve those goals. 

Finally, and perhaps most seriously, there are the intrinsic 
challenges to the viability of democratic government which 

8 TTie Crisis of Democracy 

grow directly out of the functioning of democracy. 
Democratic government does not necessarily function in a 
self-sustaining or self-correcting equilibrium fashion. It may 
instead function so as to give rise to forces and tendencies 
which, if unchecked by some outside agency, will eventually 
lead to the undermining of democracy. This was, of course, a 
central theme in de Tocqueville's forebodings about 
democracy; it reappeared in the writings of Schumpeter and 
Lippmann; it is a key element in the current pessimism about 
the future of democracy. 

The contextual challenges differ, as we have seen, for each 
society. Variations in the nature of the particular democratic 
institutions and processes in each society may also make 
some types of intrinsic challenges more prominent in one 
society than in another. But, overall, the intrinsic threats are 
general ones which are in some degree common to the 
operation of all democratic systems. The more democratic a 
system is, indeed, the more likely it is to be endangered by 
intrinsic threats. Intrinsic challenges are, in this sense, more 
serious than extrinsic ones. Democracies may be able to 
avoid, moderate, or learn to live with contextual challenges 
to their viability. There is deeper reason for pessimism if the 
threats to democracy arise ineluctably from the inherent 
workings of the democratic process itself. Yet, in recent 
yearSj the operations of the democratic process do indeed 
appear to have generated a breakdown of traditional means 
of social control, a delegitimation of political and other forms 
of authority, and an overload of demands on government, 
exceeding its capacity to respond. 

The current pessimism about the viability of democratic 
government stems in large part from the extent to which 
contextual threats, societal trends., and intrinsic challenges 
have simultaneously manifested themselves in recent years. A 
democratic system which was not racked by intrinsic 
weaknesses stemming from its own performance as a 
democracy could much more easily deal with contextual 
policy challenges. A system which did not have such 

Introduction 9 

significant demands imposed upon it by its external 
environment might be able to correct the deficiencies which 
arose out of its own operations. It is, however, the 
conjunction of the policy problems arising from the 
contextual challenges, the decay in the social base of 
democracy manifested in the rise of oppositionist 
intellectuals and privatistic youth, and the imbalances 
stemming from the actual operations ot democracy itself 
which make the governability of democracy a vital and, 
indeed, an urgent issue for the Trilateral societies. 

This combination of challenges seems to create a situation 
in which the needs for longer-term and more broadly 
formulated purposes and priorities., for a greater overall 
coherence of policy, appear at the same time that the 
increasing complexity of the social order, increasing political 
pressures on government, and decreasing legitimacy of 
government make it more and more difficult for government 
to achieve these goals. 

The demands on democratic government grow, while the 
capacity of democratic government stagnates. This, it would 
appear, is the central dilemma of the governability of 
democracy which has manifested itself in Europe, North 
America, and Japan in the 1970s. 


1 See The New York Times, October 7, 1974; The Economist, March 
23, 1974, p. 12; Geoffrey Barraclough, "The End of an Era," New 
York Review of Books, June 27, 1974, p. 14. 

2 Many of these issues have been dealt with in the reports of other 
Trilateral Commission task forces. See particularly Triangle Papers nos. 
1-7, embodying reports on the world monetary system, international 
cooperation, North-South economic relations, world trade, and energy. 

3 Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy 
(New York: Harper & Bros., 2d ed., 1947), p. 147. 

4 See Ronald Inglehart, "The Silent Revolution in Europe: 
Intergenerational Change in Postindustrial Societies," American 
Political Science Review, 65 (December 1971), pp. 991 ff. 



Michel Crozier 


The vague and persistent feeling that democracies have 
become ungovernable has been growing steadily in Western 
Europe. The case of Britain has become the most dramatic 
example of this malaise, not because it is the worst example 
but because Britain, which had escaped all the vagaries of 
continental politics, had always been considered everywhere 
as the mother and the model of democratic processes. Its 
contemporary troubles seem to announce the collapse of 
these democratic processes or at least their incapacity to 
answer the challenges of modern times. 

Certainly appearances remain safe in most West European 
countries but almost everywhere governing coalitions are 
weak and vulnerable while alternative coalitions seem to be as 
weak and possibly even more contradictory. At the same 
time decisions have to be taken whose consequences may be 
far-reaching while the governing processes, because of the 
conjunction of contradictory pressures, seem to be capable of 
producing only erratic results. 

These difficulties are compounded by the existence of 
Europe as a problem. The whirlpool of each national 


j 2 The Crisis of Democracy 

governing system has more and more restrained the margin of 
freedom on which progress in European unification can be 
built. The European bureaucracy, which had been for a time 
a useful protective device for making rational solutions more 
acceptable, has now lost its role. Contradictions at the 
governing level therefore tend to grow while governments are 
forced to be much more nation-centered and much less 

Each country, of course, is substantially different. The 
main characteristic of Western Europe is its diversity. But 
across the widely different practices and rationalizations, two 
basic characteristics hold true about the basic problem of 
govern ability: 

• The European political systems are overloaded with 
participants and demands, and they have increasing difficulty 
in mastering the very complexity which is the natural result 
of their economic growth and political development. 

• The bureaucratic cohesiveness they have to sustain in 
order to maintain their capacity to decide and implement 
tends to foster irresponsibility and the breakdown of 
consensus, which increase in turn the difficulty of their task. 

1 . The Overload of the Decision-Making Systems 

The superiority of democracies has often been ascribed to 
their basic openness. Open systems, however, give better 
returns only under certain conditions. They are threatened 
by entropy if they cannot maintain or develop proper 
regulations. European democracies have been only partially 
and sometimes theoretically open. Their regulations were 
built on a subtle screening of participants and demands; and 
if we can talk of overload, notwithstanding the progress made 
in handling complexity, it is because this traditional model of 
screening and government by distance has gradually broken 
down to the point that the necessary regulations have all but 

Western Europe 13 

There are a number of interrelated reasons for this 
situation. First of all, social and economic developments have 
made it possible for a great many more groups and interests 
to coalesce. Second, the information explosion has made it 
difficult if not impossible to maintain the traditional distance 
that was deemed necessary to govern. Third, the democratic 
ethos makes it difficult to prevent access and restrict 
information, while the persistence of the bureaucratic 
processes which had been associated with the traditional 
governing systems makes it impossible to handle them at a 
low enough level. Because of the instant information model 
and because of this lack of self-regulating subsystems, any 
kind of minor conflict becomes a governmental problem . 

These convergences and contradictions have given rise to a 
growing paradox. While it has been traditionally believed that 
the power of the state depended on the number of decisions 


it could take, the more decisions the modern state has to 
handle, the more helpless it becomes. Decisions do not only 
bring power; they also bring vulnerability. The modern 
European state's basic weakness is its liability to blackmailing 

Another series of factors tending to overload all industrial 
or post-industrial social systems develops from the natural 
complexity which is the result of organizational growth, 
systemic interdependence, and the shrinking of a world 
where fewer and fewer consequences can be treated as 
acceptable externalities. European societies not only do not 
escape this general trend, they also do not face it with the 
necessary increase of governing capacities. Politicians and 
administrators have found it easier and more expedient to 
give up to complexity. They tend to accommodate to it and 
even to use it as a useful smoke screen. One can give access to 
more groups and more demands without having to say no and 
one can maintain and expand one's own freedom of action 
or, in more unpleasant terms, one's own irresponsibility. 1 

Beyond a certain degree of complexity, however, nobody 

14 The Crisis of Democracy 

can control the outcomes of one system; government 
credibility declines; decisions come from nowhere; citizens' 
alienation develops and irresponsible blackmail increases, 
thus feeding back into the circle: One might aTgue that the 
Lindblom model of partisan mutual adjustment would give a 
natural order to this chaotic bargaining, but this does not 
seem to be the case because the fields are at the same time 
poorly structured and not regulated.. 2 

One might also wonder why European nations should 
suffer more complexity and more overload than the United 
States, which obviously has a more complex system open to 
more participants. But. overload and complexity are only 
relative to the capacity to handle them, and the present 
weakness of the European nations comes from the fact that 
their capacity is much lower because their tradition has not 
enabled them to build decision-making systems based on 
these premises. This judgment about the European 
nation-states' decision-making capabilities may be surprising 
since European countries, like Britain and France, pride 
themselves in having the best possible elite corps of 
professional decision-makers, in many ways better trained or 
at least better selected than their American counterparts. The 
seeming paradox can be understood if one accepts the idea 
that decision-making is not done only by top civil servants 
and politicians but is the product of bureaucratic processes 
taking place in complex organizations and systems. If these 
processes are routine-oriented and cumbersome, and these 
organizations and systems overly rigid, communications will 
be difficult, no regulation will prevent blackmail, and poor 
structure will increase the overload. For all their 
sophistication, modern decision-making techniques do not 
seem to have helped very much yet because the problem is 
political or systemic and not a technical one. 

One of the best examples of their failure has been shown 
in a recent comparative study of the way two similar 
decisions were made in Paris in the 1890s and in the 1960s: 

Western Europe 15 

the decision to build the first Parisian subway and the 
decision to build the new regional express transit system. 
This comparison shows a dramatic decline in the capacity to 
take rational decisions between the two periods. The 1890s 
decision gave rise to a very difficult but lively political debate 
and was a slow decision-making sequence, but it was arrived 
at on sound premises financially, economically, and socially. 
The 1960s decision was made in semisecret, without open 
political debate, but with a tremendous amount of lobbying 
and intrabureaucratic conflict. Its results', when one analyzes 
the outcomes, were strikingly poorer in terms of social, 
economic, and financial returns. It seems that the elite 
professional decision-makers backed up with sophisticated 
tools could not do as well as their less brilliant predecessors, 
while the technical complexity of the decision was certainly 
not greater. The only striking difference is the tremendous 
increase in the level of complexity of the system and its 
dramatic overload due to its confusing centralization. 3 

It is true that there are many differences among the 
European countries in this respect and one should not talk 
too hastily of common European conditions. There is quite a 
strong contrast, for example, between a country like Sweden, 
which has developed an impressive capability for handling 
complex problems by relieving ministerial staffs of the 
burden of administrative and technical decisions and by 
allocating considerable decision-making powers to 
strengthened local authorities, and a country like Italy, where 
a very weak bureaucracy and an unstable political system 
cannot take decisions and cannot facilitate the achievement 
of any kind of adjustment. Nevertheless, the majority of 
European countries are somewhat closer to the Italian model 
and Sweden seems to be, for the moment, a striking 
exception. This exception does not seem to be due to the size 
or type of problems since small countries, like Belgium or 
even the Netherlands and Denmark, are also victims of 

1 6 The Crisis of Democracy 

overload and complexity due to the rigidity and complexity 
of group allegiances and to the fragmentation of the polity. 

2. Bureaucratic Weight an&Civic Irresponsibility 

The governability of West European nations is hampered 
by another set of related problems which revolve around the 
general emphasis on bureaucratic rule, the lack of civic 
.responsibility, and the breakdown of consensus. 

A basic problem is developing everywhere: the opposition 
between the decision-making game and the implementation 
game. Completely different rationales are at work at one level 
and at the other. In the decision-making game, the capacity 
to master a successful coalition for a final and finite 
agreement is a function of the nature and rules of the game in 
which the decision is one outcome. Since the same partici- 
pants are playing the same game for quite a number of crucial 
decisions, the nature of their game, the participants' re- 
sources, and the power relationships between them may have 
as much validity in predicting outcomes as the substance of 
the problem and its possible rational solution. In the 
implementation game, however, completely different actors 
appear whose frames of reference have nothing to do with 
national decision-making bargaining and whose game is 
heavily influenced by the power structure and modes of 
relationship in the bureacracy on one hand, and in 
the politico-administrative system in which the decision is to 
be implemented on the other. It is quite frequent that the 
two games work differently and may even be completely at 
odds. A gap can therefore exist between the rationality of the 
decision-makers and the outcomes of their activity, which 
means that collective regulation of human activities in a 
complex system is basically frustrating. Such a situation is 
reproduced and exemplified at the upper political level where 

Western Europe 1 7 

all modern democratic systems suffer from a general 
separation between an electoral coalition and the process of 
government. A completely different set of alliances is 
necessary to get an electoral majority and to face the 
problems of government. The United States and Japan also 
have these problems, but they are especially acute in West 
European countries because of the fragmentation of social 
systems, the great difficulties of communication, and the 
barriers between different subsystems which tend to close up 
and operate in isolation. 

Two different models, however, are predominant in 
Western Europe. One model, which has worse consequences 
for governability, is the bureaucratic model associated with a 
lack of consensus. This is the model exemplified especially by 
countries like France and Italy, where a very sizable part of 
the electorate will always vote for extremist parties, of the 
left and to some extent of the right, that do not accept the 
minimum requirements of the democratic system. In these 
countries social control is imposed on the citizens by a state 
apparatus which is very much isolated from the population. 
Politico-administrative regulations work according to a basic 
vicious circle: bureaucratic rule divorced from the political 
rhetoric and from the needs of the citizens fosters among them 
alienation and irresponsibility which form the necessary con- 
text for the breakdown of consensus that has developed. Lack 
of consensus in its turn makes it indispensable to resort to 
bureaucratic rule, since one cannot take the risk of involving 
citizens who do not accept the minimum rules of the game. 
Generally, when social control has been traditionally achieved 
by strong bureaucratic pressure, democratic consensus has not 
developed fully and consensual breakdowns are endemic 
possibilities. All European countries retain some of these 
traditional control mechanisms. 

However, an alternative model is exemplified by the 

1 8 The Crisis of Democracy 

countries of northwestern Europe where a broad consensus 
has been achieved early enough and constantly reinforced, 
thus preventing the state bureaucracy from dominating too 
exclusively. Sweden, with its strong local decision-making 
system, with its consensual labor-management bargaining 
system, and with its ombudsman grievance procedures against 
the bureaucracy, is the best example of such a model. 

Nevertheless, a general drift toward alienation, irre- 
sponsibility, and breakdown of consensus also exists in 
these countries and even in Sweden. In time, group 
bargaining has become more and more routinized, that is, 
more and more bureaucratic, and workers, if not citizens 
generally, have also tended to feel as alienated as those in 
revolutionary Europe. In Denmark, the Netherlands, and 
Britain, the social democratic consensus is breaking down 
while the relationships between groups have become so 
complex and erratic that citizens are more and more 
frustrated. Politics become divorced from the citizens' 
feelings and even from reality. Vicious circles therefore tend 
to develop which bring these countries much closer than they 
ever were to the countries of continental Europe. Even 
Sweden has been affected, at least in its labor relations. 4 

3. The European Dimension 

All these problems are certainly multiplied by the new 
dimension of international problems which has made the 
European national state a somewhat obsolete entity. One 
could obviously conceive of a federal European system which 
could rely on strong decentralized local and regional 
decision-making systems, thus reducing the overload on the 
top, the bureaucratic nature of the intermediary processes, 
and the citizens' alienation. But efforts at unification have 
tended to reinforce the national bureaucratic apparatuses 
as if these traditional nervous centers of European affairs 
could not help but harden again. Thus, Western Europe faces 

Western Europe 19 

one of its most impossible dilemmas. Its problems are more 
and more European in nature, but its capacity to face them 
relies on institutional instruments of a national and 
bureaucratic nature that are more and more inadequate but 
that tend at the same time to harden their hold on the 

Personalization of power in Western Europe also has been 
used in national and international affairs to fight the 
bureaucratic entanglements and to foster citizens' 
identification when participation could not work. Its results, 
however, are always disappointing. Leaders become prisoners 
of their image and are too vulnerable to act. They become 
public relations figures, thus creating a credibility gap and 
broadening the misunderstanding between citizens and their 
decision-making system. 

One should not, however, overemphasize the general drift 
toward irresponsibility and impotence in individual European 
states and in Europe as a whole. Problems are threatening, 
the capacity to handle them seems to have diminished, but 
there are still many areas where government performances are 
satisfactory compared with those of past governments, those 
of other Trilateral areas, and those of the rest of the world. 
European societies are still very civilized societies whose 
citizens are well-protected and whose amenities and possibil- 
ities of enjoyment have not only been maintained but 
extended to a great many more people. In addition Europe 
suffers less from social disruption and crime than the United 

There are growing areas, nevertheless, where governments' 
capacity to act and to meet the challenge of citizens' 
demands has been drastically impaired. Almost everywhere 
secondary education and the universities are affected as well 
as, frequently, metropolitan government, land use, and urban 
renewal. This impairment of capacities is becoming prevalent 
in more countries in bargaining among groups, income 
redistribution, and the handling of inflation. 

20 The Crisis of Democracy 


In order to better understand these general features of the 
socio-political systems of Western Europe, and to be able to 
suggest general orientations for the discussion of possible 
change, we should first try to concentrate on the social, 
economic, and cultural causes of the present crises. Causes 
and consequences, however, are basically interrelated, and it 
is impossible to disentangle them. Therefore, we will try to 
focus successively on some of the major problem areas which 
can be used for a better understanding of the present 

First of all, we will try to assess the general socio-economic 
context, which can be characterized sociologically by the 
explosion of social interaction and economically by the 
disruptive effect of continuous growth. We will then try to 
analyze the general collapse of traditional institutions, which 
may be the immediate background of the crisis. We will then 
move on to the problem of cultural institutions, focusing 
especially on the intellectuals, education, and the media. We 
will conclude by reviewing a last circumstantial problem 
which has had an accelerating impact — the problem of 

1 . The Increase of Social Interaction 

In every developed country man has become much more a 
social animal than before. There has been an explosion of 
human interaction and correlatively a tremendous increase of 
social pressure. The social texture of human life has become 
and is becoming more and more complex and its management 
more difficult. Dispersion, fragmentation, and simple ranking 
have been replaced by concentration, interdependence, and a 
complex texture. Organized systems have become tre- 
mendously more complex, and they tend to prevail, in a much 
more composite and complex social system, over the more 

Western Europe 21 

simple forms of yesterday. Because of the basic importance 
of the contemporary complex social texture, its management 
has a crucial importance, which raises the problem of social 
control over the individual. 

Europe is in a very special situation because it has a long 
record of traditional social control imposed upon the 
individual by collective authorities, especially the state, and 
by hierarchical religious institutions. Certainly these 
authorities and institutions had been liberalized over the 
centuries since the time of absolutism. Nevertheless, a strong 
association between social control and hierarchical values still 
persists, which means that a basic contradiction tends to 
reappear. Citizens make incompatible claims. Because they 
press for more action to meet the problems they have to face, 
they require more social control. At the same time they resist 
.any kind of social control that is associated with the hier- 
archical values they have learned to discard and reject. The 
problem may be worldwide, but it is exacerbated in Europe, 
where social discipline is not worshipped as it still is in Japan, 
and where more indirect forms of social control have not 
developed as in North America. 

European countries, therefore, have more difficult 
problems to overcome to go beyond a certain level of 
complexity in their politico-administrative, social, and even 
economic systems. There are differences in each country, 
each one having maintained a very distinctive collective 
system of social control. But each one of these systems now 
appears to be insufficient to solve the problems of the time. 
This is as true for Britain, which was considered to have 
mastered forever the art of government, as it is for Italy, 
which could have been an example of stable "nongovern- 
ment." France, also, has a centralized apparatus less and less 
adequate to manage modern complex systems and becomes 
therefore more vulnerable. To some extent Germany benefits 
from the deep trauma of nazism, which has forced more basic 
change in the management of its social texture, but it is 
nevertheless under the same kind of strains. 

22 The Crisis of Democracy 

2. The Impact of Economic Growth 

The impact of economic growth can be better understood 
in view of these basic strains. It was believed in the fifties and 
early sixties that the achievement of economic growth was 
the great problem for European nations. If only their GNP 
could grow for long enough, most of their troubles as divided 
and nonconsensual polities would gradually disappear. This 
fact was so overwhelmingly accepted that for a long time the 
official line of the communist parties was to deny the reality 
of the material progress of the working class and to argue 
that capitalist development had brought not only a relative 
but also an absolute decline of workers' income. However, 
certain facts had to be finally faced: namely, the tremendous 
economic gains made during the past twenty years by all 
groups and especially the workers. But the consequences of 
this were to be the opposite of what had been expected. 
Instead of appeasing tensions, material progress seems to have 
exacerbated them. 

Three main factors seem necessary to account for the 
paradox. First, as it happens everywhere, change produces 
rising expectations which cannot be met by its necessarily 
limited outcomes. Once people know that things can change, 
they cannot accept easily anymore the basic features of their 
condition that were once taken for granted. Europe has been 
especially vulnerable since its unprecedented economic boom 
had succeeded a long period of stagnation with pent-up 
feelings of frustration. Moreover, its citizens have been more 
sophisticated politically and especially vulnerable to invidious 
comparisons from category to category. 

A second factor has to be taken into consideration: the 
special role played by radical ideology in European 
working-class politics. At a simple level, the European 
revolutionary and nonconsensual ideologies of working-class 
parties and trade unions were associated with the economic 
and cultural lag that did not allow the working people a fair 

Western Europe 23 

share in society's benefits. But ideology is only partially a 
consequence of frustration; it is also a weapon for action. 
And in the European context, it remains the most effective 
available instrument for mobilization. When ideology 
declines, the- capacity of the unions to achieve results also 
declines. The processes of orderly collective bargaining, 
even when they bring results, tend to be also so complex and 
bureaucratic that they produce disaffection. Rank-and-file 
workers do not recognize themselves in such a bureaucratic 
process and they tend to drift away, which means that the 
more trade unions and working-class parties accept regular 
procedures, the weaker they become in their capacity to 
mobilize their followers and to put real pressure on the 
system. Thus, they have to rediscover radicalism. This is 
much more true for the Latin countries, which had never 
achieved a satisfactory bargaining system, but radical drift 
has also been very strong in northwest Europe. Generally, 
even if workers have become better integrated in the overall 
social system, they nevertheless remain basically frustrated 
with the forms of bargaining which do not allow them much 
participation. Therefore, a radical ideology is necessary to 
enable them to commit themselves to the social game. This 
situation is especially strong in many countries where it can 
be argued that working-class groups have not benefited from 
prosperity as greatly as they should or could have. Converse- 
ly, those countries where blue-collar-workers' progress has 
been comparatively the greatest and the steadiest, such as 
Germany, are also those whose resistance to inflation and to 
the ideological drift is the strongest. 

A third factor may be more fundamental. This is the most 
disruptive consequence of accelerated change. It is true 
enough that change often brings greater material results and 
that people have been able to recognize and appreciate their 
gains, although they might have denied them for a long time. 
But accelerated change is extremely costly in terms of 
disruption. It means that many branches and enterprises 

24 The Crisis of Democracy 

decline and even disappear while others undergo tremendous 
growth. People are forced to be mobile geographically and 
occupationally, which can be accounted for in terms of 
psychological costs. They have had to face a new form of 
uncertainty and are likely to compare their fates more often 
to the fates of other groups. Tensions, therefore, are bound 
to increase. 

Moreover, these processes have had a direct and profound 
impact on the modes of social control operating in society.. 
And this is where Europe has been much more vulnerable 
than either the United States or Japan. In a society where 
social control had traditionally relied on fragmentation, 
stratification, and social barriers to communication, the 
disruptive effect of change which tends to destroy these 
barriers, while forcing people to communicate, makes it more 
and more difficult to govern. The problem has never been so 
acute in North America, which has always been on the whole 
a much more open society; and it is still not yet as developed 
in Japan, which has been able up to now to maintain its 
forms of social control while undergoing even more economic 

Wide differences of course persist between the very diverse 
European nations. Italy and to some extent France have been 
less directly perturbed because they have remained more 
hierarchical in their social texture. 5 Throughout the world 
individuals have lost a great deal of their traditional frames of 
reference and have not found substitutes in their 
relationships with the collective group. Everywhere anomie 
has increased for young people; groups are more volatile and 
social control is much weaker. At the same time, the direct 
effect of economic and geographical disruptions requires 
proper handling; it requires the imposition of collective 
disciplines which these disruptions make it impossible to 
generate. 6 

A no-growth economy is, of course, no solution, as Britain 
has clearly shown. No country can isolate itself from general 

Western Europe 25 

change. British society may have suffered less disruption than 
the continental countries, but it is now, in counterpart, the 
victim of its poor economic performance. British people may 
still be individually less tense than people on the continent, 
but they are becoming collectively demoralized. Egalitari- 
anism and mass participation pressures have increased as they 
did elsewhere and the gap between promises and expectations 
has widened even more, leading to repeated and frustrating 
clashes between the bureaucracy and various sectors of the 
general public, to poorer and poorer government perform- 
ances, and to widespread feelings of political alienation. 

3. The Collapse of Traditional Institutions 

The contradiction regarding social control has been 
amplified by the near collapse of the traditional authority 
structure which was buttressing social control processes. The 
collapse is partly due to the disruptive effect of change, but it 
can also be viewed as the logical outcome of a general 
evolution of the relationship of the individual to society. 

Everywhere in the West the freedom of choice of the 
individual has increased tremendously. With the crumbling of 
old barriers everything' seems to be possible. Not only can 
people choose their jobs, their friends, and their mates 
without being constrained by earlier conventions, but they 
can drop these relationships more easily. People whose range 
of opportunities is greater and whose freedom of change also 
is greater can be much more demanding and cannot accept 
being bound by lifelong relationships. This is, of course, 
much more true for young people. It has further been 
compounded by the development of sexual freedom and by 
the questioning of woman's place in society. In such a 
context traditional authority had to be put into question. 
Not only did it run counter to the tremendous new wave of 
individual assertion, but at the same time it was losing the 
capacity which it had maintained for an overly long time to 

26 The Crisis of Democracy 

control people who had no alternatives. 

The late sixties have been a major turning point. The 
amount of underlying change was dramatically revealed in 
the political turmoil of the period which forced a sort of 
moral showdown over a certain form of traditional authority. 
Its importance has been mistaken inasmuch as the revolt 
seemed to be aiming at political goals. What was at stake 
appears now to be moral much more than political 
authority— churches, schools, and cultural organizations more 
than political and even economic institutions. 

In the short space of a few years, churches seem to have 
been the most deeply upset. In most of Europe, a basic shift 
was accelerated which deprived them of their political and 
even moral authority over their flocks and within society at 
large. The Catholic church has been hit the hardest because it 
had remained more authoritarian. Yet as opinion polls have 
shown, religious feelings and religious needs persist. They 
may even have been reactivated by the anxieties of our time 
so that eventually churches will be able to regain some of the 
ground they have lost. In order to succeed they will have to 
open up and abandon what remains of their traditional 

This may have been already achieved since the authoritarian 
pattern is vanishing. The crisis is much more apparent within 
the hierarchy than among the laity. Priests are leaving the 
churches at an increasing rate; they cannot be replaced, and 
those who stay do not accept the bureaucratic authority of 
their superiors and the constraints of the dogma as 
obediently as before. They are in a position to exact a much 
better deal, and they get it. Conversely, they feel less capable 
of exerting the traditional moral authority they maintained 
over laymen. It may be exaggerated to pretend that the 
age-old system of moral obligations and guidance that 
constituted the church has crumbled; it is still alive, but it has 
changed more in the last decade than during the last two 
centuries. Around this change the new effervescence that has 

Western Europe 27 

developed may be analyzed as a proof of vitality. New 
rationales may emerge around which the system will stabilize. 
But it seems clear enough already that the traditional model, 
which had been for so long one of the main ideological 
strongholds of European societal structures, has disintegrated. 
This is certainly a major change for European societies. Such 
a model provided a basic pattern for the social order and was 
used as a last recourse for buttressing social control, even in 
the so-called laicist countries like France where the Catholic 
church was supposed to have only a minor influence. The 
impact of the basic shift of values will be widespread. Even 
the nonreligious milieus, which had maintained similar 
models of social control despite their opposition to the 
Catholic principles, will not be able to resist change any 
better even if at first glance they seem less directly affected. 

Education as a moral establishment is faced with the same 
problem and may be the first example of this corresponding 
similarity between opposing traditions. Whatever philosophi- 
cal influences were exerted over it in particular countries, 
education is in trouble all over Western Europe. It has lost its 
former authority. Teachers cannot believe anymore in their 
"sacred" mission and their students do not accept their 
authority as easily as they did before. Along with the 
religious rationale for the social order, educational authority 
does not hold firm anymore. Knowledge is widely shared. 
Teachers have lost their prestige within society, and the 
closed hierarchical relations that made them powerful figures 
in the classroom have disappeared. Routine makes it possible 
for the system to work and the sheer necessity and weight of 
its functions will maintain it in operation. But the malaise is 
deep. The dogmatic structure disintegrates; no one knows 
how to operate without a structure and new forms do not 
seem to be emerging. We are still in the process of 
destructuration where generous Utopias still seem to be the 
only constructive answers to the malaise. 

Higher education, which has had a more spectacular 

28 The Crisis of Democracy 

revolution, may have been partly revived, but in many 
countries and in many disciplines it is still in chaos. European 
universities do not offer any kind of institutional leadership. 
They are not real institutions for their students. 
Very few teachers will be able to propose positive and 
nonideological models of commitment to values which can be 
acceptable to students. Consequently, the universities' 
potential cannot be used as a stimulant for change in society 
and young people's energies are easily diverted toward 
meaningless and negative struggles. 

Other institutions are also, if less severely, perturbed by 
this collapse of moral authority. Among them the army, at 
least in its roles as training school for organizational 
disciplines and symbol and embodiment of patriotic values, 
has lost its moral and psychological appeal. Defense may be 
more and more entrusted to professional armies that may 
remain reliable. But the conscript army as a school for the 
citizen and as a model of authority is on the wane. It has lost 
all sense of purpose. It is really isolated from the mainstream 
of human relationships. Thus, another stronghold of the 
moral fabric of Western societies disappears. 

Curiously enough the problem of authority in economic 
organizations, which had always been considered the most 
difficult battlefield of industrial society, seems comparatively 
less explosive. Difficulties have been reactivated during the 
upheaval of the late sixties. Economic sanctions and the 
visibility of results, however, give participants some accept- 
able rationale for collective endeavor. Nevertheless, European 
enterprises are weaker as institutions, on the whole, than 
their American or Japanese counterparts. They lack con- 
sensus over the system of authority as well as over the system 
of resources allocation, and they even often lack enough 
agreement regarding the rules of the game in conflict situa- 

The problems are more difficult when the social system 
has maintained some of the rigid features of a former class 

Western Europe 29 

society and when authority is supposed to be imposed from 
above. The situation is considerably more touchy in Italy and 
to some extent also in France than in Scandinavia and 
Germany, where discipline has long been internalized. 7 
Nevertheless, the problem remains more acute in Europe than 
in the United States, where people have gradually learned 
newer forms of social control, or in Japan, where older forms 
of social control persist and readjust to present requirements 
in a very active fashion. 

Two important series of consequences are derived from 
this institutional weakness. First, the integration of the 
working class into the social game is only partial, especially in 
the Latin countries and in France. Second, the weight of the 
organizational middle classes of middle executives and 
supervisors constitutes a conservative, eventually paralyzing 

The lack of integration of the working class not only 
prevents direct bargaining and understanding, which makes 
the European enterprise more vulnerable, but it is at the root 
of the widespread reluctance of young people to accept the 
humiliating, underpaid lower-blue-collar jobs. European 
entrepreneurs have found an easy solution to the workforce 
problem by turning to migrant workers from Southern 
Europe and North Africa. However, this policy, which had 
been highly successful for a while and which has fed the 
industrial development of Western Europe during its boom 
years, has brought new and difficult problems in the 
community life of West European cities. Gradually another 
factor of instability has developed since foreign workers have 
begun to question their place and range of opportunities in 
the social and economic system. 

Efforts at promoting working-class jobs and upgrading and 
integrating blue-collar jobs into the mainstream of industrial 
development have usually failed because of the weight of the 
hierarchy. And the middle-most hierarchical categories have 
slowed down the modernization of the institutional fabric of 

30 The Crisis of Democracy 

economic organizations. Their attitudes, furthermore, help 
maintain in these European organizations the rigidity of 
social control that prevents modernization and growth. 

Indeed, if European enterprises look more healthy than 
European churches and schools, this is also because they still 
rely more on the old model of social control. One may 
surmise that economic organizations will have to follow suit 
after the others, which probably means disruption. 
Differences between countries remain considerable. Sweden, 
for instance, is well ahead in the development of a new model 
while Italy is in a stage of partial disruption. 

4. The Upsetting of the Intellectual World 

Another basic source of disruption of Western societies 
comes from the intellectual world. Daniel Bell has rightly 
pointed out the basic importance of culture in the coming of 
post-industrial society. Knowledge tends to become the basic 
resource of humanity. Intellectuals as a social group are 
pushed into the forefront of sociopolitical struggles and the 
relationships of the intellectual world to society change 
radically. But neither Daniel Bell nor any other futurologist 
has foreseen the importance and the painfulness of such an 
ongoing process of change. There is no reason to believe that 
the contemporary cultural revolution will be more peaceful 
than the industrial revolutions of the past. 

We seem to be, as a matter of fact, in a cultural crisis 
which may be the greatest challenge that confronts Western 
societies, inasmuch as our incapacity to develop appropriate 
decision-making mechanisms— the ungovernability of our 
societies— is a cultural failure. Europe, in this respect, is the 
most troubled and the most vulnerable of the three Trilateral 
areas, primarily because the strength and centrality of its 
intellectual tradition makes it more difficult to develop new 

The first element of the crisis is the problem of numbers. 
The coming of a post-industrial society means a tremendous 

Western Europe 3 1 

increase in the numbers of intellectuals, would-be 
intellectuals, and para-intellectuals. Not only do older 
intellectual professions develop, but newer ones appear, and 
many nonintellectual jobs become professional. But the more 
intellectuals there are, the less prestige there is for each. Here 
again we come to the real paradox: The more central a 
profession becomes, the less prestige and influence its average 
member will have as an individual. There would not be any 
problem if the socialization and training process would be 
geared to the new state of affairs. But people continue to be 
trained in the traditional aristocratic ethos of the prestigious 
roles of yesterday. They are thus prepared to expect a 
completely different pattern of activities and relationships 
with the outside world than is actually the case. Moreover, 
the cumulative effects of their individual endeavors to 
promote and modernize their roles tend to diminish and 
routinize them. 

A new stratification thus develops between those persons 
who can really play a leading role and those who have to 
accept a humbler status. But this stratification is in turn a 
factor in the malaise because in many countries, particularly 
France and Britain, the happy few acquire and maintain their 
positions by restrictive monopolistic practices. 

Another factor of discontent comes from the importance 
of the aristocratic tradition in Western Europe's cultural 
world. According to that tradition, intellectuals are romantic 
figures who naturally get a position of prominence through a 
sort of aristocratic exaltation. This attitude is still very much 
alive and dominant at a subconscious level. Yet intellectuals 
as agents of change and moral guides in a period of fast 
changes should be and are effectively in the vanguard of the 
fight against the old aristocratic tradition. Thus not only are 
they working to destroy the privileges that they 
unconsciously crave, but many of them undergo a moral 
crisis for which a radical stand is often an easy solution. 

The internal upsetting of the traditional intellectual roles, 
whose new occupants discover that they do not meet the 

32 The Crisis of Democracy 

expectations which had prompted their own personal 
commitments, is increased, if not multiplied, because of the 
existence of a very strong displacement within the 
intellectual world itself. While a long tradition had given the 
humanities an honored position, the new trend favors the 
new intellectual professions that may be of more practical 
use. The more post-industrial society becomes intellectu- 
alized, the more it tends to displace traditional value-oriented 
intellectual disciplines to the benefit of action-oriented ones, 
that is, those disciplines that can play a direct role in 

Value-oriented intellectuals do not disappear or even 
decline, however. They find new and rapidly-developing 
openings in the fields of communications. But such a 
reorientation may be morally painful since it can be viewed 
as somewhat debasing. In any case, the opposition of the two 
cultures, described by C.P. Snow, has shifted greatly. It has 
become a battle between those persons who play the 
audience, even if it is a protest type, and those who 
contribute to the process of decision-making. Thus, the basic 
crisis of the intellectual world is a crisis of identity in a 
rapidly changing world where the basic mechanisms of 
regulation have been put severely into question. 

Many other factors, of course, are at work. The cultural 
world may be considered as a sounding board for the other 
forms of malaise of Western societies. But one should 
emphasize that this sounding board plays a very important, 
autonomous role of its own, first of all because it reinforces 
the uncertainties and driving anxieties it is expressing and, 
second, because it projects on the whole of society the crises 
of identity its members are experiencing. 

Notwithstanding the many differences between countries, 
one can clearly recognize a general drift in the art and literary 
worlds toward a protest and even revolutionary posture. It 
has clearly shaped the cultural context in which the younger 
generations move. 

The importance of such a trend should not be 

Western Europe 33 

underestimated. True enough, one can correctly dismiss its 
immediate political influence and recognize the superficiality 
of its fashionable aspects. But it has a meaning and an 
influence at a deeper level. It is an expression of a basic 
weakening of Western Europe's sense of purpose, capacity to 
lead, and to govern itself. Above all, it is the source of a 
profound divorce between the ruling people and the young 

Even if it does not affect the general public, which tends 
to react against highbrow pessimism, the overall mood of 
Western societies is shaped by a general cultural tendency. 
West European values are not rejuvenated in a convincing 
way. No model of civilization emerges from the present-day 
drifting culture, no call for reform and pioneering. Ritualism 
and self-pity remain the basic undercurrent behind the 
arrogant radical criticism that prevails on the surface. Vague 
Utopias certainly do not counterbalance the stronger 
apocalyptic nihilism that forms the texture of our vanguard 
culture. On the other hand, there is no possible dialogue 
between the ruling elite and the new generation. Fragmenta- 
tion and stratification, which were stifling traditional class 
society, seem to perpetuate themselves through new cultural 
cleavages. Other regulatory mechanisms which we cannot 
distinguish yet may be at work. A new blossoming may well 
follow this long hibernating process. But we must face the 
fact that we are now in the most vulnerable part of the cycle 
of change or, to put it a better way, of the process of 
transition to post-industrial society. 

5. The Mass Media 

The vulnerability of the cultural world and its importance 
for the whole of society is compounded because of the 
central role it plays in two basic subsystems of modern 
societies: education and the media. 

Education exemplifies some of the same basic 
contradictions as the world of culture. The prestige of 

34 The Crisis of Democracy 

teachers has decreased with the tremendous increase of their 
numbers while their expectations are still greatly influenced 
by the traditional liberal flavor of their calling. And they are, 
even more than other intellectuals, directly confronted with 
the revolution in human relations that perturbs their 
traditional mode of social control. At the same time, with its 
cultural drift society has lost the stimulating moral guidance 
it requires. As a consequence the transmission of social, 
political, and cultural norms has been very deeply perturbed, 
thus feeding back into society as a whole. Already research 
results show the extent of intellectual breakdown and 
disorientation that prevails in many sectors of the 
population. People's behavior is not touched, really, but they 
can no longer rely on a coherent rationalization of its 
context, and they feel at a loss to find out how they relate to 
society. Anomic rebellion, estrangement from society, and 
alienation certainly have dangerously progressed because of 
this cultural void. 

The media are not in as great a crisis as education is. 
However, they have been transformed by the explosion and 
expansion of communications and the new role played by 
value-intellectuals. The media's influence on politics and 
governability is much more direct than that of education, and 
the media play a most decisive role in the present drift of 
Western societies. They are a very important source of 
disintegration of the old forms of social control inasmuch as 
they contribute to the breakdown of old barriers to 
communication. Television, particularly, has played a major 
role in this respect. It has made it impossible to maintain the 
cultural fragmentation and hierarchy that was necessary to 
enforce traditional forms of social control. Its impact has 
been more recent and more difficult than in the United 
States or Japan because of the much stronger resistance of 
fragmented and stratified European societies. Its use is still 
more differentiated according to social categories or classes. 
Nevertheless, the strength of the appeal of television is such 

Western Europe 35 

that it has forced a complete change of public and social life, 
and has also indirectly helped the press to restructure itself. 
The main impact of these changes, of course, is visibility. The 
only real event is the event that is reported and seen. Thus, 
journalists possess a crucial role as gatekeepers of one of the 
central dimensions of public life. 

The media have thus become an autonomous power. It is 
not new to talk about the Fourth Estate. But we now are 
witnessing a crucial change when the profession tends to 
regulate itself in such a way as to resist pressure from 
financial or governmental interests. Television, which is 
heavily influenced in many countries by governmental 
control, works ~ much less openly than newspapers; 
self-regulation, however, is everywhere on the increase. This 
could be viewed as tremendous progress. But at the same 
time these mechanisms of self-regulation of the media tend to 
be strongly biased. If journalists can create events, they have 
a structuring impact on public and social life. And if their 
basic logic in creating events is to reach the widest possible 
audience, they will tend to bias the social game in such a way 
that public figures will have to play for this audience much 
more than for real outcomes. This has many consequences: 

First, the media become a tremendous sounding board for 
the difficulties and tensions of society. Movements and 
fashions take broader proportions. It is much more difficult 
to escape the whirlpool of public relations events and to 
concentrate on more basic problems. Second, the media 
deprive governments and to some extent also other 
responsible authorities of the time lag, tolerance, and trust 
that make it possible to innovate and to experiment 

Third, the pressure of the media makes it extremely 
difficult to solve a basic dilemma of modern complex 
systems, which has been brought to light as the 
counterintuitive effect. 8 Systems operate in such a way that 
very often the general outcome of individual action runs 

36 The Crisis of Democracy 

counter to the will of the actors and to the general intuition 
one may have in advance. Thus it is imperative to give much 
more importance to systems analyses than to the immediate 
and apparent views of the actors, which is evidently the bias 
of the media. The more this sounding board emphasizes the 
emotional appeal of the actors' "life experience," especially 
as biased by the techniques of the media, the less easy it is to 
force a real analysis of the complex game on which political 
leaders must act. Finally, the emphasis on direct evidence 
appears to be as loaded with ideology and manipulation as 
old style oratory. Journalists' autonomy does not lead 
necessarily to transparency and truth but may distort the 
perception of reality. 

Here we find the problem of journalists as value-oriented 
intellectuals who tend to be governed by the game of 
catching the audience's attention and are responsible 
therefore for the acceleration of the cultural drift. In the long 
run, this problem may be much more important than the 
problems of financial and government interference in the 
media, which are everywhere tending to recede. 

In politics, however, the public relations effect is quite 
different from the North American one since the ruling elite 
and the educated audience play a major role as an important 
screen. They constitute the primary audience of the 
highbrow publications, which in turn tend to structure the 
problems that will finally reach the broader audience. Public 
relations of a public figure will be conditioned by the 
existence of these two levels. This means that there is a very 
serious buffer against too immediate reactions. But this does 
not mean a suppression of the public relations distortion, 
only a transformation of its conditions. At any rate the 
pressure for change that is against secrecy and protection of 
leaders seems to be more on the increase. The only ready 
answer to counterbalance it is the use of bureaucracy for real 
action, which means that the gap between the decision- 
making system, distorted by public relations problems, and 

Western Europe 37 

the implementation system, protected but also bound and 
biased by bureaucratic machine-regulating mechanisms, will 
tend to increase, thus triggering constant new waves of 
frustration and anger and diminishing the amount of trust 
people will give to their leadership. 

6. Inflation 

Inflation can be considered a direct result of the 
ungovernability of Western democracies. It is an easy answer 
to the tensions of growth. The less a society is capable of 
facing them, the readier it is to accept inflation as a less 
painful solution. At the same time it is an independent source 
of disruption which" exacerbates conflicts and still diminishes 
the capacity of groups and societies to act. Present-day 
inflation, therefore, ought to be considered, even if very 
briefly, as another independent variable to be analyzed as a 
supplementary cause of disruption. 

It is no wonder that the countries whose social fabric is the 
weakest, those whose model of social control is still based on 
hierarchy, fragmentation, and distance, have always been 
much more vulnerable to inflation. In the 1960s, however, a 
reasonable sort of equilibrium had been found according to 
which the anticipation of growth was reasonably matched 
with actual growth while Keynesian policies were stabilizing 
the system. The golden age of economics, however, was 
shorter in Europe, Germany excepted, than in North 
America. In any case, no country can now resist the 
tremendous pressure of the new turbulence in the world. 

Present-day large-scale inflation has been for a time 
remarkably well accepted. It has had a strong distorting 
effect on the economic and social position of individuals and 
groups. But its impersonal operation prevents direct 
complaint. Furthermore, the groups which usually speak the 
loudest are those which are likely to benefit from the pro- 
cess. One can even claim that the combination of public feel- 
ing, trade union pressure, and governmental intervention has 

38 The Crisis of Democracy 

tended to operate in favor of low salaries. Thus, professional 
salaried middle classes, which were certainly privileged, have 
lost some of their advantages. It is not as unfair an outcome 
as one would immediately tend to believe. 

The problems of inflation, however, change their nature 
when the so-called double-digit numbers seem to become a 
stable feature of the economic picture. The costs seem then 
more and more unbearable. Not only do distortions appear, 
but social relationships become unstable. Lack of trust 
prevents the necessary regulation of large and small economic 
and social subsystems. More people, moreover, anticipate a 
crisis, and the governments' margin of freedom is reduced to 
the lowest level. We can observe this in Britain and in Italy. 
Between unemployment and inflation there does not seem 
any middle way. Basically, governments appear to be unable 
to induce groups which are in strategic positions to accept 
sacrifices. European unity is not much of a real help since it 
is much easier for any government to dump on the outside 
world the consequences of its own weaknesses. European 
countries' foreign economic policies tend to be, on the 
whole, not only uncoordinated but even erratic. 

There are, however, some positive elements in the picture: 
Germany's understanding that it cannot retain its prosperity 
alone; France's surprisingly better economic results; and 
Franco-German cooperation. While these factors may not yet 
be inspiring for the presently weaker countries, they may be 
a new point of departure and, if some success develops, they 
will play a very important symbolic role for the development 
of the new capacities Europe requires. 

Inflation and its twin evil depression finally make the 
problem of governability an immediate and practical 
one. And the basic question is: Are the European countries 
ready to meet the challenge of the new situation, to develop 
in time of crisis the institutional capacity they could not 
develop in time of prosperity? To make an educated guess on 
this very crucial problem, one must now focus more closely 

Western Europe 39 

on the role and structure of political values in present-day 
Western Europe. 


1 . The Values Structure and the Problem of Rationality 

Behind all these governability problems of modern Western 
societies lie some more basic problems of values. 
Participation, people's consent, equality, the right of the 
collectivity to intervene in personal affairs, and the possible 
acceptance of authority seem to be the preliminary questions 
to debate beforegiving a reasonable diagnosis and proposing 
possible solutions. 

The relationship of values to behavior and especially to 
institutionalized behavior is much more complex than is 
usually believed, which makes the interpretation of opinion 
polls highly questionable. Above all, there is a wide 
discrepancy between professed values— what we can get 
through opinion polls and even attitude surveys— and actual 
behavior— what people will eventually do when problems 
force them to choose. Not only is there a discrepancy but the 
nature, importance, and even direction of this discrepancy 
are difficult to understand and therefore to predict. For 
instance, shortly before the French students' revolt in May 
1968, opinion polls gave an almost idyllic representation of 
students' docility, conformism, and even satisfied apathy. 

However, at an unconscious level, we can surmise that 
there is a rationale in people's behavior which is buttressing 
the maintenance of the social games and their social and 
cultural characteristics, and these rationales can be 
considered as more stable and meaningful value orientations. 
These value orientations, however, cannot be easily made evi- 
dent. It will be a task for new generations of social scientists 
to set these problems in more operational terms. For the mo- 
ment, we can only present some hypotheses that cannot be 

40 The Crisis of Democracy 

supported by data and represent only educated guesses which 
have been elaborated by confronting the problems to be 
solved— governability problems— with the institutional pat- 
terns and what we know of their evolution and the professed 
values of people about them. 

In this perspective, JJie^ first and most central hypothesis 
concerns the concept "of rationality and its relationship to 
the structure of values. Western Europe, as the Western world 
generally, has lived during the last two or three centuries with 
a certain model of rationality which has had a decisive 
influence on values, at least by giving them the basic structure 
within which they could be expressed. This kind of 
rationality, which can be considered as the most powerful 
tool humanity had discovered for managing collective action, 
is founded upon a clear distinction between ends and means 
and an analytical fragmentation of problems within a world 
that could be considered infinite. Within such a framework 
people can define goals according to their preferences (i.e., 
their values). Society's technical knowledge could then 
provide them with the necessary (and sufficient) means to 
implement their goals. Every problem can be redefined in 
such a way that ends and means may be clearly separate and 
so that a rational solution could easily be found. Of course, 
collective action implies several participants with different 
orders of preferences. But in the economic sphere analytical 
structuring will help sort out single deciders to whom others 
will be linked by definite contracts (into which they will 
enter according to their orders of preference). And in the 
political sphere democratic procedures organized around the 
twin concepts of general will and sovereignty give the 
rationale for the same logic. 

Of course difficulties can arise with this model of 
rationality, and they may be (reluctantly) recognized. It will 
be necessary, therefore, to resort to manipulation, compro- 
mise, and even coercion in order to arrive at a decision. For 
the elaboration of decisions, democracy can be viewed as 

Western Europe 41 

both the least evil and most ideal embodiment of rationality. 
In order to achieve implementation of these decisions, 
bureaucratic means are supposed to insure accurate and 
impersonal compliance. Conflict over means may be another 
worry, but good leadership and energy will finally overcome 
the obstacles. If there are failures, they are due to the 
weakness of human nature and have to be tolerated as such. 

As a general consequence a stable dichotomy has always 
persisted between the ideal objectives which pertain to the 
logic of values and the muddy, messy world of reality, which 
is the realm of unsavory "political" deals. But the 
discrepancy, although perturbing, does not shake this 
fundamental modelof reasoning. On the contrary, the more 
ideals may be compromised in practice, the more idealized 
and the more worshiped they will remain in the domain of 

The system has worked well enough as long as societal 
change was slow, the intervention of public authorities rather 
limited, and the fragmentation and stratification of society 
strong enough to insure a pragmatic acceptance of social 
order and established authority. But once the explosion of 
communication and social interaction has disturbed the 
necessary barriers that made societies more simple and 
therefore more manageable, this basic pattern of rationality 

First, there is no way to order goals either rationally or 
democratically. Furthermore, the quality and authenticity of 
preferences and goals becomes questionable. It is all very well 
to say that people should choose according to their 
preferences. But where do these preferences come from? The 
context of influences that is exerted over them appears to be 
determinant. Manipulation becomes a sort of basic fear which 
pervades the democratic creed. At the same time, social 
sciences begin to question this preference model by showing 
how people do not have a priori wants but discover goals 
from their experience; that is, they learn what they want by 

42 The Crisis of Democracy 

trial and error and implementation schemes. Finally, ends 
develop only through means. 

Second, ends do not appear in a vacuum. They are part of 
structured universes which also encompass means. 
Furthermore, they are interrelated and conflictual. None of 
them can be pushed very far without interfering with other 
ends. Finally what are ends for one individual or one group 
are means for other individuals or groups. 

Third, the breakdown of barriers means that people 
participate in very large structured sets where this unilateral, 
rationality scheme becomes terribly oppressive. If means, 
according to the logic of this scheme, are the domain of ines- 
capable rational techniques, the 95 percent or 99 percent of 
human beings whose universe does not go beyond these 
means do not have the possibility to participate in a 
meaningful way in the government of their daily lives. If 
rational techniques can provide the one best solution, they 
cannot even discuss the relevance of their experience for the 
common good. 

Fourth, rationality was always tempered by the limits of 
tradition and custom, and by the fragmentation of the 
problems. If limits disappear, if therefore rationality wins too 
much, if established authority-whether religious or social- 
crumbles, rationality explodes; it becomes in a certain sense 

If with this brief analysis of the crisis of modern 
rationality as a goal-structuring scheme we revert to our 
problems of governability of Western democracies, we can 
draw a first set of conclusions. There is no wonder that the 
concept of rationality has been put into question. Its own 
success was bound to make its contradictions explode. The 
cultural and moral breakdown of the late sixties therefore has 
expressed something important for the future. Whatever its 
vagaries and the dangerous threats it is presenting to the 
democratic way of government, it has above all exposed the 
illusions of traditional rationality and may help us learn a 

Western Europe 43 

new kind of reasoning where professed values will not be the 
only guide for moral action. 

The search for a broader kind of rationality, as well as the 
search for new kinds of social and organizational games that 
can embody it, is the major problem of Western societies. 
New social and psychological Utopias, such as the community 
drive, the encounter group philosophy, and the 
self-government dreams are useful tools for this search as well 
as dangerous illusions. Conversely, political reemphasis of 
local and regional ties may be as much a conservative "retro" 
fashion as a necessary axis for the renewal of governmental 

European societies, and U.S. society as well, are engaged in 
this impossible search. European societies start, however, 
with a handicap, inasmuch as they are still much more 
involved in the former model of rationality, while the 
rapidity of change is destroying the customary protections 
that were counterbalancing its rigid use. These difficulties are 
closely linked with social stratification problems, especially 
the social gap between the world of decision and the world of 
execution and the parallel but nonidentical gap between the 
educated and the noneducated classes. 

2. Core Political Beliefs 

If we distinguish core political beliefs from principles of 
action, we discover a rather paradoxical situation which 
may be emphasized as one basic characteristic of our 
contemporary scene. While those principles of action that 
seemed formerly immutable appear to be deeply shaken, 
forcing people to open up to existential bewilderment about 
the meaning of their action and their social identity, core 
political beliefs about which changes had been always 
hypothesized remain much more stable. 

While people commonly feel that the usual way to achieve 
goals is not acceptable any more (one cannot order people 

44 The Crisis of Democracy 

around even if one pretends one can or even does), and while 
community feelings seem much more important for young 
people than the real content of any goal, the basic tenets of 
the democratic and Christian creed are still very much alive 
and color revolutionary as well as conservative enterprises. In 
this respect four clusters of values seem to me as 
predominant now as they have been for a long time. 

First, the freedom of the individual is the cardinal value 
which is not only unanimously shared but seems to be 
rediscovered again by any kind of new movement whether 
extremely radical or conservatively religious. It will be 
immediately argued that these movements have widely 
different conceptions of freedom. But this is not so certain if 
one remains at the level of values or core political beliefs. The 
only fundamental distinction one can see at this point is the 
opposition between the European conception of freedom— 
which is a sort of freedom-from, that is, emphasizing the 
inalienable right of the individual not to be interfered 
with— and the American one— which is rather a freedom-to, 
that is, the inalienable right to take initiatives and to lead 
others if they so wish. European freedom-from antedates 
political democracy and has deep Christian roots. It has 
different forms according to the European country, with 
some orientation of the more Protestant countries toward the 
freedom-to concept; but, on the whole, there is much more 
convergence than one would think across countries and 
across class barriers and political groupings. 

Second, equality, whatever its ambiguity and possible 
threats, remains a dominant value orientation all over 
Western Europe. European egalitarianism, however, shows 
again a difference from the American variety. It is still a 
stratified kind of egalitarianism. People may require equality 
with their peers most punctiliously while they may accept 
inequality between statuses and strata. Contrary to North 
Americans, they might be shocked by differences of 
treatment that do not recognize people's status while they 

Western Europe 45 

would not mind the differences between statuses per se. 

Order and efficiency may be more surprising items to put 
among the core political beliefs of West Europeans. One 
cannot escape being struck, however, with the importance of 
these kinds of values in the political process. Whenever the 
development of freedom threatens to bring chaos, the 
demand for order is immediate, even violent. It is not a lost 
or dwindling part of core political beliefs whatever the 
possible evolution of its forms in the direction of more 
tolerance. The special West European form of order, 
however, has a more social and less juridical connotation 
than in the United States. Things (and people) have to be put 
in their proper place for society to operate. Due process is 
not the cardinal element of this belief. Furthermore, 
efficiency may be added to it inasmuch as it has a 
legitimating connotation. Order is the way to achieve 
efficiency, which is the condition of a well-functioning 
society. West Europeans still value the good "efficient" 
scheme more than the concrete results. Order is the burden 
of the white man; efficiency may be the demonstration of it 
in a modern rationalized society. 

Finally, I would emphasize dualism as a fourth cluster of 
core political beliefs. Contrary to Eastern countries, West 
Europeans never had a unitary conception of legitimacy. 
Church and State opposition antedates modern left-right 
conflicts. Group cooperation may be dreamed of as a possible 
unanimous harmony, but it has never been practiced without 
the due protection of dualism. Free choice can be preserved 
only if the existence of an opposition preserves the 
independence of individuals who could be otherwise too 
dependent on the predominant power to be able to assert 
their rights. All situations where such an oppositon 
disappears have to be avoided as paternalistic, feudalistic, and 
oppressive. Conflict may be handled most painfully through 
such dualism. Real conflicts may be stifled and distorted, but 
one feels that the price is worth paying since prior harmony 

46 The Crisis of Democracy 

is always suspect. This core belief, which is completely 
foreign to Japan, is widely shared in North America, but the 
American form of it emphasizes checks and balances more 
than conflict and dualism. Absolute power in this conception 
is evil and must therefore be checked, but this does not 
necessarily imply the division of the citizens. In Europe this 
division is the center of the game, and one can tolerate a 
greater abuse of governmental prerogatives since government 
will be paralyzed by the division of society. 

3. The Impact of Social, Economic, 

and Cultural Changes on the Principles of Rationality 

and on the Core Political Beliefs 

Political behavior and political changes do not depend 
directly on political values but on the possible learning 
people can do within the constraints of the core political 
beliefs they adhere to and the principles of rationality they 
apply. What then may be, more precisely, the impact of 
social, economic, and cultural changes on these two kinds of 
societal dimensions? 

All over Western Europe the development of social 
interaction, the disruptive effects of cumulative change, the 
cultural drift, and the exposure of government to media 
publicity have made it more and more difficult to maintian 
•social control and to answer the demands of the citizens. 
Traditional rationality, therefore, disintegrates. But values or 
core political beliefs are not affected. They may even be 

The urge for freedom does not level off. On the contrary, 
it may be intensified by the helplessness of uprooted 
individuals within a too complex world and their 
concomitant blackmailing power over weakened institutions. 
Not only is the demand for freedom exacerbated, but it does 
not shift from a freedom-from to a freedom-to orientation. 
The traditional posture still pays off. 

Western Europe 47 

The drive for equality, of course, develops; it may progress 
from a narrow categorical frame of reference to a broader 
one. But basically the tightness of the social and political 
game is such that no significant shift can be expected in a 
near enough future. Conversely, the need for order is 
reactivated by the chaotic aspect of a generalized 
blackmailing game. And it is of a more regressive than 
progressive kind. No learning seems to take place. As usual 
people ask for freedom for themselves and order for the 
others. Even dualism may be reinforced inasmuch as the 
breakdown of rationality and the weakness of government 
leave the field open for the game of division and opposition. 

What is at stake, therefore, is not the democratic creed and 
the Christian ethos, which are less directly threatened than 
they were for example in the thirties, 9 but the contradiction 
between these core political beliefs and the principles of 
action that could make it possible to implement them. 

Earlier democratic processes had been built on the 
separation of groups and classes. They relied as much on 
institutionalized noncommunication as on democratic 
confrontation. Authority was worshiped as an indispensable 
means for achieving order although it was rejected as a 
dangerous interference with freedom. Such a model could 
not stand structural changes that destroy barriers, force 
people to compete outside traditional limits, and suppress the 
distance that protected traditional authority. A profound 
contradiction therefore develops. People tend to try different 
and more open practices or are being forced into them, but 
they cannot stand the tensions these practices bring. Since 
they cannot also stand the authority that could moderate 
these tensions and bring back order over them, a very 
resilient vicious circle develops. Little real learning takes 
place, and authority hides behind public relations and 
complexity but becomes more vulnerable because it does not 
dare to assert itself. And the more vulnerable it becomes, the 
more it generates blackmailing group pressures, the less 

48 The Crisis of Democracy 

margin it retains for more responsible longer-term action and 
the less chance it stands to regain legitimacy. 

New patterns of tolerance and mutual adjustment have to 
be learned and are in fact being learned to deal with these 
growing tensions and the chaotic consequences they can have 
if the easy solution of inflation is not available. But this 
cannot take place yet at the level of values or the core belief 
system. We can only hope that action will anticipate beliefs, 
that is, that people will learn from experience instead of 
obeying already existing motivations. This kind of learning is 
perfectly compatible with the core belief system although it 
implies some shift from the freedom-from concept to the 
freedom-to concept and the extension of the traditional 
narrow egalitarianism to broader domains. Nevertheless, it 
would mean the appearance of new beliefs alongside the core 
system. If such learning does not develop quickly enough, 
however, there is a growing risk of crisis and regression. 

4. Traditional Factors As a Counterweight 

European societies still live on a series of traditional 
adjustments that are not called into question because they 
are taken for granted: the persistence of old forms of 
patronage networks which allow due consideration to 
forgotten human factors; symbiotic adjustments between 
opposed social and economic partners according to which 
conflicts and tensions are maintained at a workable level; 
implicit bargaining arrangements between groups that cannot 
face each other squarely; implicit consensus on some sort of 
professional or work ethic, and so on. 

There is, moreover, a longing and a search for earlier 
community practices to be rediscovered and revived, a 
longing and search which testify to the need of finding more 
roots at a time when the acceleration of change destroys the 
support as well as the constraints around which humanity 
could find meaning. On the whole, however, Western Europe 
seems to be worse off than either Japan or North America. 

Western Europe 49 

Japan still benefits from the existence of a huge capital of 
collective capacity upon which it can rely. North America 
does not have this capital of tradition; but even if it suffers 
from some of the same problems Western Europe has to face, 
it has had more time to learn, and it benefits from more slack 
in its social and economic system which allows it to 
experiment more easily. Western Europe has used up a lot 
more of its own reserves than Japan and does not have the 
learning experience and the learning capacity of the United 
States. It should, therefore, be much more careful with 
whatever resources is has and invest as much as it can to 
develop them and learn new patterns of adjustment. It does 
not have time to wait; it-must learn and learn as quickly as 
possible. A purely defensive strategy would be suicidal 
because the risk of regression is a very concrete one. 

5. The Risks of Social and Political Regression 

Western Europe has known already a tragic period of 
regression when the chaotic and effervescent world born out 
of World War I could' not face its tensions, especially those of 
the depression, and when its needs for order were met by 
recourse to the fascist and Nazi regressions. Fascism and 
Nazism can be analyzed as a return to older forms of 
authority to restore or impose the indispensable order. This 
was associated with a sudden shift in patterns of behavior 
reactivating those which were closer to earlier types. 

Can Western Europe suffer another such setback? 

Certainly not in the same form and in the same direction. 
There is little left in the present core beliefs in which to find 
support. There is no strong will, no sense of mission, no real 
dedication to fight for the restoration of an earlier moral 
order; there is not so much will to fight for capitalism or even 
for free enterprise as such. No strong movement can be 
expected therefore from a right-wing "reactionary" 

But regression can come also from the left for two 

50 The Crisis of Democracy 

converging reasons: The communist parties have emerged 
more and more as the parties of order, whose leaders are the 
only ones able to make people work, and there has always 
been a very strong tendency to develop state socialism and 
public bureaucracy interference as the easy solution to 
manage the impossible, that is, to maintain order in the face 
of unmanageable conflicts. 

These affirmations may seem paradoxical. The communist 
parties generally have lost ground or leveled off almost 
everywhere in Western Europe. Their ideology does not have 
the same appearance any more. It looks very much like a 
routinized church whose charisma has at least partially 
disappeared. Why should such sedate and moderate parties 
be a threat to democracy just at the time they are beginning 
.to respect its basic tenets? 

The strength of the present communist parties of Western 
Europe does not lie, however, either in their revolutionary 
appeal or in their electoral capabilities. They must have 
enough of them certainly. But their unique superiority is 
their organizational one. They are the only institutions left in 
Western Europe where authority is not questioned, where a 
primitive but very efficient chain of command can 
manipulate a docile workforce, where there is a capacity to 
take hard decisions and adjust quickly, and where goods can 
be delivered and delays respected. 

Authority may be heavy-handed in these parties and the 
close atmosphere they have maintained over their people has 
certainly been a brake to their development. Turnover has 
always been considerable. But granted these costs, their 
machine has remained extraordinarily efficient and its super- 
iority has tremendously increased when other major institu- 
tions have begun to disintegrate. There is now no other 
institution in Europe, not even the state bureaucracies, that 
can match the communist parties' capabilities in this domain. 

True enough, as long as the problem of order does not 
become central, they are out of the game; but if chaos should 

Western Europe 5 1 

develop for a long enough time following a greater economic 
depression, they can provide the last solution. Most European 
countries have always had a very strong tradition of state 
control and bureaucratic procedures to substitute for their 
political systems' weaknesses. While bureaucracy may be 
anathema for the majority of people in opinion polls, it is 
still the easy solution for any kind of problem. This, of 
course, may be more true for France and Britain, but it is 
also true in the smaller countries and Germany, which, while 
it has moved away from state socialism, still has a strong 
tradition to which one can appeal. 

For some of the Western countries the idea of 
nationalization, after years of oblivion and little ideological 
appeal, has become an issue again. In time of political chaos 
and economic depression it may appear as the last recourse to 
save employment and to equalize sacrifices. The communist 
parties are certainly better trained to administer the resulting 
confusion and to restore order to leaderless organizations. 
They will win then not because of their appeal but by default 
because the communists are the only ones capable of filling 
the void. 

They have already shown proof of their capabilities. For 
instance they have shown remarkable efficiency in 
administering various cities in Italy and France; they have 
helped to restore order in Italian, French, and even German 
universities; and they have shown everywhere, even in 
Britain, how to influence key trade unions by using minority 
control devices. Their potential, therefore, is much higher at 
that level than it is at the electoral level or at the 
revolutionary level. And because of this potential they can 
attract experts and professionals of high caliber and also 
increase their capabilities on the technical side. 

Nevertheless, the communists do have problems. The most 
pressing one is the danger of being contaminated by the 
general trends of the societies in which they have to operate, 
that is, to be unable to prevent the disintegration of their 

52 The Crisis of Democracy 

model of authority. This is why they take such great care to 
maintain their revolutionary identity. They have been 
protected by their minority ghetto-like status and as long as 
they can maintain it, their hard core membership has so 
deeply .internalized their so far successful practices that they 
can stand the pressure of the environment for quite a long 

They have a difficult game to play, nevertheless. They 
must be enough in to be present when high stakes are at 
issue, while remaining sufficiently out to maintain their 
organizational capacity. Their basic weakness lies in their 
difficulty in respecting the freedom-from belief and their 
incapacity to" accept dualism. Can they govern and control 
societies whose core political beliefs are alien to them? 
Wouldn't they trigger an extremely strong backlash? It is a 
difficult question to answer because these societies are in the 
midst of a deep cultural transformation which affects, with 
the principles of rationality, the basis of their political 

Let us just suggest that if the takeover would be sudden, 
an anticommunist backlash would be likely; but if the 
breakdown would be intensive and profound but also 
gradual, the communists coming to power could be very 
difficult to question. 


This review of some of the major problems of 
governability in Western Europe may suffer from an overly 
pessimistic overtone. By focusing on the more intractable 
problems one is easily led to overemphasize contradictions 
and to give the misleading impression that breakdowns are 
soon likely to occur. 

To present a more balanced conclusion, we would put 
these analyses in a more general perspective. The problems of 
European societies are difficult to solve but they are not 

Western Europe 53 

intractable, and European societies, whatever their 
weaknesses, do still possess a lot of resources that can be 
mobilized when wanted. They have already shown during the 
contemporary period considerable resilience and an 
unexpected capacity to adapt, to adjust, and to invent. Right 
now they still manage to maintain democratic stability 
against very difficult odds. And during the past twenty years 
they have carried through a very impressive mutation that 
few observers would have trusted them to accomplish. If 
there was no external constraint, there would be no reason to 
believe they could not accomplish the second mutation that 
seems necessary now- ._. . 

The basic situation, therefore, that should concern us is 
not so much the intractability of the problems and the 
incapacity of the European societies to meet the challenge; it 
is the vulnerability of Europe. Indeed, all European nations 
have to live through the same impossible situation: They have 
to carry through a basic mutation in their model of 
government and their mode of social control while facing at 
the same time a crisis from within and a crisis from without. 

European nations have different capacities and some of 
them at first glance seem more likely to succeed than others. 
But none of them has the leeway and resources of the United 
States or the collective capacity of action of Japan. 
Furthermore, they are so interdependent that, while they can 
help and emulate each other strongly, they are partially 
dependent on the vulnerability of the weakest link in the 

The crisis from within revolves, of course, basically around 
economic and social instability. Inflation at the rate it has 
reached increases the tensions it had alleviated formerly. Its 
disruptive effects undermine the basis of the social bond 
because of the loss of trust and the impossibility to plan 
ahead. But too much deflation would force an impossible 
reallocation of resources and/or raise unemployment to an 
unacceptable level. Countries are therefore in an impossible 

54 The Crisis of Democracy 

vicious circle, which it is very difficult for them to break 
without entering a deeper depression, and whose risks seem 
impossible to accept in view of the fragility of their social 

Managing such a crisis imposes the need to give priority to 
short-term considerations and makes it all the more difficult 
to meet the more basic challenge of the necessary mutation 
of social controls. 

This is, of course, compounded by the consequences of the 
crisis from without which is not only the crisis of energy and 
the crisis of the balance of payments but the relative 
situation of weakness of the European nations whose welfare 
is for the ffrsf time directly dependent on outside pressures 
from non-Western powers. Here again the failure of one or 
two countries can be managed with the help of the strongest, 
but if France, for example, would follow, the whole 
European system would crumble. 

In such a difficult situation, state socialism may appear to 
be the easiest solution for some countries, especially the 
Latin ones, since it would give workers guarantees and help 
spread out employment. But such a course of action, a 
possibility which must be taken very seriously, would trigger 
a period of social chaos in which the communist parties 
would play a decisive role because they would be the only 
ones capable of bringing back order and efficiency. This 
scenario, of course, could not apply to the whole of Europe, 
but it could quickly spread to Italy, France, and Spain and 
put unbearable pressure on Germany. At that time Finland- 
ization would appear as the least evil. 

Such a disastrous drifting of Western Europe is not 
inevitable. It is not even likely, but the fact that the 
possibility must be taken seriously is a measure of the present 
vulnerability of Europe. To prevent it, European nations 
should try to go beyond their present dire constraints and 
face at the same time the challenges of the future. 

First, they should try to accelerate the shift away from 

Western Europe 55 

their old model of fragmentation, stratification, secrecy, and 
distance, which produced an acceptable balance between 
democratic processes, bureaucratic authority, and some 
aristocratic tradition, and experiment with more flexible 
models that could produce more social control with less 
coercive pressure. Such experimentation, which is bound to 
succeed in the long run, looks dangerous in the present 
vulnerable situation when we hesitate naturally to jeopardize 
what remains of the old means of social control as long as 
one is not sure of the quality of the new means. Innovation, 
nevertheless, seems to be absolutely indispensable. It has to 
be careful innovation^ but it is the only possible answer to 
Europe's dilemma. 

European nations should at the same time try to reorient 
the trend of economic growth. They badly need to maintain 
growth to prevent unemployment and an exacerbation of 
social conflicts, but they cannot maintain the type of growth 
of preceding years which has brought more and more costly 
disruptions and can be considered one of the important 
causes of inflation. A new emphasis on quality, on collective 
amenities, on a more careful allocation of space is not 
impossible. New goals for facing the future can be given 
priority: modernizing the education process; improving 
community and regional decision-making; establishing more 
responsible information systems; radically changing working 
conditions and restoring the status of manual work; 
developing income maintenance programs; making public 
bureaucracies responsible to the citizens and private 
bureaucracies to the consumers. 

The diverse background and history of the different 
European nations can be viewed as an asset for such 
endeavors since there exists among them a tremendous 
reservoir of experience and of capable talents. European 
interdependence, on the other hand, forces European nations 
to face the impossible problem of unity. A united Europe 
was for a long time the ideal dream to help maintain the drive 

56 The Crisis of Democracy 

to overcome the outdated modes of government that 
prevailed in the national state systems. But the advocates of 
European unity have stumbled too long on the obstacle of 
the central states' nodal power, which the present crises have 
reinforced even more, to maintain hope for the near future. 
Investments in a European common capacity remain 
nevertheless indispensable not only for Europe's sake but for 
each country's capacity to overcome its own narrow 
determinisms. Can they be made in view of the present 
pressure? This may be the most difficult question. It may 
certainly be helped in any case by a better appreciation in 
the two other regions of the difficulty of their partners' 
problem and by their willingness to help solve it. 


l.When asked what to do with a difficult problem a famous 
contemporary French politician well known for his skillful use of the 
system used to sum up this practice by saying, "Let's muddle it up a 
little more." 

2. This seems to be one basic weakness of the Lindblom model in 
The Intelligence of Democracy: it does not give due attention to the 
way the field in which adjustments take place is structured and 
regulated. Sensible partisan mutual adjustments take place only within 
fields which a minimum of structure and regulation has neutralized. 
Chaos will only bring chaos. Good "partisan mutual adjustment" 
systems are a construct, as is any kind of market. 

3. See Alain Cottereau, "L'agglomeration parisienne au debut du, 
siecle," Sociologie du Travail, 4, 1969, pp. 342-65. 

4. To some extent Switzerland might be an interesting exception, 
which is a lasting testimony to the exceptional strength of its 
decentralized local decision-making system. 

5. This proposition is very difficult to substantiate since each 
country may rate differently on the diverse categories of a very 
complex social universe. One can argue that class differences are still 
stronger in Britain and Germany than in France. It seems however that 
French institutions and organizational systems still rely more on 

Western Europe 57 

hierarchical mechanisms that their counterparts in Britain and 
Germany. The crumbling of social barriers in any case has been more 
spectacular in France and Italy in one of the key areas of modern 
change, the universities. The influx of students in these two countries 
has been much higher in the sixties than in Britain and Germany, with a 
concomitant breakdown of social control. 

6. This is certainly one of the reasons for the development of 
inflation, which is the consequence of the disruption of traditional 
social regulation as much as it is a cause of it. 

7. One should, of course, add that the economic gains of blue-collar 
workers in these countries have been comparatively much higher, but 
there is no point opposing the two series of causes, which are 
intertwined and do reinforce each other. 

8. James Forrester was the first to use this formulation. 

9. One may argue that they are eroded, but I personally feel that 
they have fewer defenders because nobody attacks them and even more 
because everybody agrees so much that they are taken for granted. 



Samuel P. Huntington 


The 1960s witnessed a dramatic renewal of the 
democratic spirit in America. The predominant trends of that 
decade involved the challenging of the authority of 
established political, social, and economic institutions, 
increased popular participation in and control over those 
institutions, a reaction against the concentration of power in 
the executive branch of the federal government and in favor 
of the reassertion of the power of Congress and of state and 
local government, renewed commitment to the idea of 
equality on the part of intellectuals and other elites, the 
emergence of "public interest" lobbying groups, increased 
concern for the rights of and provision of opportunities for 
minorities and women to participate in the polity and 
economy, and a pervasive criticism of those who possessed or 

*I am indebted to Kevin Middlebrook and Kenneth Juster for their 
efficient help in the collection of material and data for this paper. 


60 The Crisis of Democracy 

were even thought to possess excessive power or wealth.* 
The spirit of protest, the spirit of equality, the impulse to 
expose and correct inequities were abroad in the land. The 
themes of the 1960s were those of the Jacksonian Democra- 
cy and the muckraking Progressives; they embodied ideas and 
beliefs which were deep in the American tradition but which 
usually do not command the passionate intensity of commit- 
ment that they did in the 1 960s. That decade bore testimony 
to the vitality of the democratic idea. It was a decade of 
democratic surge and of the reassertion of democratic egali- 

This democratic surge manifested itself in an almost 
endless varietyof ways. Consider, for instance, simply a few 
examples of this surge in terms of the two democratic norms 
of participation and equality. Voting participation, which 
had increased during the 1940s and 1950s, declined during 
the 1960s, reaching lows of 55.6 percent in the 1972 
presidential election and of 38 percent in the 1974 midterm 
election. Almost all other forms of political participation, 
however, saw a significant increase during the 1950s and 
continuing into the 1960s. An index of campaign activity 
(representing the mean number of campaign acts performed 
each year) rose from a low of .58 in the 1952 election to a 
peak of .83 in the 1960 election; thereafter, it declined 
somewhat and leveled off, registering .69 in 1962, .77 in 
1964, .73 in 1968, returning to its previous high of .83 in 
1970, and then dropping to .73 in 1972. l The overall picture 

*In addition to these democratic trends, and often interspersed with 
them there were also, of course, some markedly antidemocratic trends 
in the 1960s: elitist discrimination against middle-class groups (ration- 
alized in the name of egalitarianism); the suppression of free speech 
(particularly on university campuses); and the resort by extremist 
minorities to physical coercion and violence. These activities formed, 
in a sense, the dark outriders of the democratic surge, swept up in the 
same sense of movement, but serving different goals with very different 

The United States 61 

is one of a sharp increase in campaign activity in the 1950s 
following which it remained on a high plateau in the 1 960s. 
The Goldwater, McCarthy, Wallace, and McGovern 
candidacies mobilized unprecented numbers of volunteer 
campaign workers. In addition, the Republicans in 1962 and 
the Democrats subsequently launched a series of major 
efforts to raise a substantial portion of their campaign funds 
from large numbers of small givers. In 1972 Nixon and 
McGovern each collected $ 1 3 million to $ 1 5 million in small 
amounts from over 500,000 contributors. 

The 1960s also saw, of course, a marked upswing in other 
forms of citizen participation, in the form of marches, 
demonstrations, protest movements, and "cause" 
organizations (such as Common Cause, Nader groups, and 
environmental groups.) The expansion of participation 
throughout society was reflected in the markedly higher 
levels of self-consciousness on the part of blacks, Indians, 
Chicanos, white ethnic groups, students, and women — all of 
whom became mobilized and organized in new ways to 
achieve what they considered to be their appropriate share of 
the action and of the rewards. The results of their efforts 
were testimony to the ability of the American political 
system to respond to the pressures of newly active groups, to 
assimilate those groups into the political system, and to 
incorporate members of those groups into the political 
leadership structure. Blacks and women made impressive 
gains in their representation in state legislatures and Congress, 
and in 1974 the voters elected one woman and two Chicano 
governors. In a similar vein, there was a marked expansion of 
white-collar unionism and of the readiness and willingness for 
clerical, technical, and professional employees in public and 
private bureaucracies to assert themselves and to secure 
protection for their rights and privileges. Previously passive or 
unorganized groups in the population now embarked on 
concerted efforts to establish their claims to opportunities, 
positions, rewards, and privileges, which they had not 

62 The Crisis of Democracy 

considered themselves entitled to before. 

In a related and similar fashion, the 1960s also saw a 
reassertion of the primacy of equality as a goal in social, 
economic, and political life. The meaning of equality and the 
means, of achieving it became central subjects of debate in 
intellectual and policy-oriented circles. What was widely 
hailed as the major philosophical treatise of the decade 
(Rawls, A Theory of Justice) defined justice largely in terms 
of equality. Differences in wealth and power were viewed 
with increased skepticism. The classic issue of equality of 
opportunity versus equality of results was reopened for 
debate. The prevailing preoccupation with equality was well 
revealed in the titles of books produced by social theorists 
and sociologists over the course of three or four years/ 2 This 
intellectual concern over equality did not, of course, easily 
transmit itself into widespread reduction of inequality in 
society. But the dominant thrust in political and social action 
was all clearly in that direction. 

The causes of this democratic surge of the 1960s could 
conceivably be: (a) either permanent or transitory; (b) 
either peculiar to the United States or more generally 
pervasive throughout the advanced industrialized world. The 
surge might, for instance, be the result of long-term social, 
economic, and cultural trends which were producing 
permanent changes in American society (often subsumed 
under the heading of the "emergence of post-industrial 
society") and which would in due course equally affect other 
advanced industrialized countries. Or it could have been the 
product of rapid social and cultural change or upheaval in the 
1960s which in itself was transitory and whose political 
consequences would hence eventually fade, that is, it could 
have been the product of a transitory process of change 
rather than the product of the lasting results of change (e.g., 
the rapid expansion of higher education enrollments in the 
1960s rather than the resulting high level of enrollment in 
higher education). In addition, given the similarities which 

The United States 63 

appeared to exist between the political temper and 
movements of the 1960s and earlier periods in American 
history, it is possible that the surge could have reflected a 
peculiarly American dynamic working itself out on a 
recurring or cyclical basis. On the other hand, it is also 
possible that the sources for the democratic surge were in a 
transient yet general crisis of the industrialized world which 
manifested itself in comparable if different ways in other 
Trilateral countries. Or, of course, most probable in fact and 
least satisfying in theory, the surge could be the product of a 
mixture of factors, permanent and transitory, specific and 

"In framing a government which is to be administered by 
men over men," observed James Madison in The Federalist, 
no. 51, "the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable 
the government to control the governed; and in the next 
place oblige it to control itself." To assume that there is no 
conflict between these two requirements is sheer 
self-delusion. To assume that it is impossible to reach a rough 
balance between these two requirements is unrealistic 
pessimism. The maintenance of that balance is, indeed, what 
constitutional democracy is all about. Over the centuries, the 
United States has probably been more successful than any 
other government in combining governmental authority and 
limits on that authority in an effective manner appropriate to 
the environment, domestic and external, in which that 
government has operated. Views as to what constitutes the 
precise desirable balance between power and liberty, 
authority and democracy, government and society obviously 
differ. In fact, the actual balance shifts from one historical 
period to another. Some fluctuation in the balance is not 
only acceptable but may be essential to the effective 
functioning of constitutional democracy. At the same time, 
excessive swings may produce either too much government or 
too little authority. The democratic surge of the 1960s raised 
once again in dramatic fashion the issue of whether the 

64 The Crisis of Democracy 

pendulum had swung too far in one direction. 

The consequences of that surge will be felt for years to 
come. The analysis here focuses on the immediate -r- and 
somewhat contradictory — effects of the democratic surge on 
government. The basic point is this: The vitality of 
democracy in the United States in the 1960s produced a 
substantial increase in governmental activity and a substantial 
decrease in governmental authority. By the early 1970s 
Americans were progressively demanding and receiving more 
benefits from their government and yet having less 
confidence in their government than they had a decade 
earlier. And paradoxically, also, this working out of the 
democratic impulse was associated with the shift in the 
relative balance in the political system between the decline of 
the more political, interest-aggregating, "input" institutions 
of government (most notably, political parties and the 
presidency), on the one hand, and the growth in the 
bureaucratic, regulating and implementing, "output" 
institutions of government, on the other. The vitality of 
democracy in the 1960s raised questions about the 
governability of democracy in the 1970s. The expansion of 
governmental activities produced doubts about the economic 
solvency of government; the decrease in governmental au- 
thority produced doubts about the political solvency of gov- 
ernment. The impulse of democracy is to make government 
less powerful and more active, to increase its functions, and 
to decrease its authority. The questions to be discussed are: 
How deep are these trends? How can these seemingly contra- 
dictory courses be reconciled within the framework of the 
existing political system? If a balance is to be restored be- 
tween governmental activity and governmental authority, 
what are the consequences of this restoration for the demo- 
cratic surge and movement of the 1960s? Does an increase in 
the vitality of democracy necessarily have to mean a decrease 
in the governability of democracy? 

The United States 65 


The structure of governmental activity in the United 
States — in terms of both its size and its content — went 
through two major changes during the quarter-century after 
World War II. The first change, the Defense Shift, was a 
response to the external Soviet threat of the 1940s; the 
second change, the Welfare Shift, was a response to the 
internal democratic surge of the 1960s. The former was 
primarily the product of elite leadership; the latter was 
primarily the result of popular expectations and group 

The year 1948 is an appropriate starting point for the 
analysis of these changes in the structure of governmental 
activity.* By that time governmental activity had adjusted 
from its wartime levels and forms; demobilization had been 
completed; the nation was setting forth on a new peacetime 
course. In that year, total governmental expenditures 
(federal, state, and local) amounted to 20 percent of GNP; 
national defense expenditures were 4 percent of GNP; and 
governmental purchases of goods and services were 12 
percent of GNP. During the next five years these figures 
changed drastically. The changes were almost entirely due to 
the onslaught of the Cold War and the perception eventually 

*In this analysis, governmental activity will be measured primarily in 
terms of governmental expenditures. This indicator, of course, does not 
do justice to many types of governmental activity, such as regulatory 
action or the establishment of minimum standards (e.g., for automotive 
safety or pollution levels or school desegregation), which have major 
impact on the economy and society and yet do not cost very much. In 
addition, the analysis here will focus primarily not on absolute levels of 
governmental expenditures, which obviously expanded greatly both due 
to inflation and in real terms, but rather to the relations among 
expenditures, revenues, and the GNP and among different types of 

66 The Crisis of Democracy 

shared by the top executives of the government — Truman, 
Acheson, Forrestal, Marshall, Harriman, and Lovett — that a 
major effort was required to counter the Soviet threat to the 
security of the West. The key turning points in the 
development of that perception included Soviet pressure on 
Greece and Turkey, the Czech coup, the Berlin blockade, the 
communist conquest of China, the Soviet atomic explosion, 
and the North Korean attack on South Korea. In late 1949, a 
plan for major rearmament to meet this threat was drawn up 
within the executive branch. The top executive leaders, 
however, felt that neither Congress nor public opinion was 
ready to accept such a large-scale military buildup. These 
political obstacles were removed by the outbreak of the 
Korean war in June 1950. 3 

The result was a major expansion in the U.S. military 
forces and a drastic reshaping of the structure of 
governmental expenditures and activity. By 1953 national 
defense expenditures had gone up from their 1948 level of 
$10.7 billion to $48.7 billion. Instead of 4 percent of GNP, 
they now constituted over 13 percent of GNP. Nondefense 
expenditures remained stable at 15 percent of GNP, thus 
making overall governmental expenditures 28 percent of GNP 
(as against 20 percent in 1948) and government purchases of 
goods and services 22 percent of GNP (as against 12 percent 
in 1948). The governmental share of the output of the 
American economy, in short, increased by about 80 percent 
during these five years, virtually all of it in the national 
defense sector. 

With the advent of the Eisenhower administration and the 
end of the Korean war, these proportions shifted somewhat 
and then settled into a relatively fixed pattern of 
relationships, which remained markedly stable for over a 
decade. From 1954 to 1966, governmental expenditures were 
usually about 27 percent or 28 percent of GNP; governmental 
purchases of goods and services varied between 19 percent 
and 22 percent; and defense expenditures, with the exception 

The United States 67 

Table 1 

Governmental Spending in Relation to GNP 

All Govt. Defense Nondefense Purchase of Goods 

Year Expenditures Expenditures Expenditures and Services 


























1973 32 6 26 21 

1974* 33 6 27 22 

Source: Economic Report of the President, 1975 (Washington: Govern- 
ment Printing Office, 1975). 


of a brief dip in 1964 and 1965, were almost constantly 
stable at 9 percent to 10 percent of GNP. The basic pattern 
for this period was in effect: 


of GNP 

Governmental expenditures 


Defense expenditures 


Nondefense expenditures 


Governmental purchases of 
goods and services 21 

68 The Crisis of Democracy 

In the mid-1960s, however, the stability of this pattern 
was seriously disrupted. The Vietnam war caused a minor 
disruption, re/ersing the downward trend in the defense 
proportion of GNP visible in 1964 and 1965 and temporarily 
restoring defense to 9 percent of GNP. The more significant 
and lasting change was the tremendous expansion of the 
nondefense activities of government. Between 1965 and 
1974, total governmental expenditures rose from 27 percent 
to 33 percent of GNP; governmental purchases of goods and 
services, on the other hand, which had also increased 
simultaneously with total expenditures between 1948 and 
1953, changed only modestly from 20 percent in 1965 to 22 
percent in 1974. This difference meant, of course, that a 
substantial proportion of the increase in governmental 
spending was in the form of transfer payments; for example, 
welfare and social security benefits, rather than additional 
governmental contributions to the Gross National Product. 
Nondefense expenditures, which had been 20 percent of GNP 
in 1965, were 25 percent of GNP in 1971 and an estimated 27 
percent of GNP in 1974. Defense spending went down to 7 
percent of GNP in 1971 and 6 percent in 1974. Back in 
1948, defense spending had been less than 20 percent of total 
governmental spending. At the peak of the defense build-up 
in 1953 it amounted to 46 percent of the total, and during 
the long period of stable relationships in the 1950s and 
1960s, defense accounted for about 33 percent of total 
governmental spending. Under the impact of the Welfare 
Shift of the late 1960s, however, the defense proportion of 
total governmental spending again dropped down to less than 
one-fifth of total governmental spending, that is, to the 
relationship which had prevailed in 1 948 before the military 
implications of the Cold War had become evident. 

The extent of the Welfare Shift in the scope and substance 
of governmental activity can also be seen by comparing the 
changes in governmental expenditures during the two decades 
of the 1950s and 1960s. Between 1950 and 1960, total 

The United States 69 

governmental expenditures rose by $81.0 billion, of which 
$29.1 billion or roughly 36 percent was for defense and 
international relations. Between 1960 and 1971, govern- 
mental expenditures increased by $218.1 billion, of which, 
however, only $33.4 billion or roughly 15 percent were 
accounted for by defense and international relations, while 
expenditures for domestic programs grew by $184.7 billion. 
This growth in domestic spending is also reflected in a change 
in the relative shares of federal, state, and local governments 

Table 2 

Governmental Revenues and Expenditures for Major Functions 
(billions of dollars) 

1950 1960 1965 1970 1971 1972 

Total Revenues $66.7 $153.1 $202.6 $333.8 $342.5 $381.8 

Total Expenditures 70.3 151.3 205.6 333.0 369.4 397.4 

Defense and International 18.4 47.5 55.8 84.3 80.9 79.3 

Education 9.6 19.4 29.6 55.8 64.0 70.0 

OASI and Other Insurance .7 10.8 16.6 35.8 42.0 46.9 

Interest on General Debt 4.9 9.3 11.4 18.4 21.7 23.1 

Public Welfare 3.0 4.5 6.4 17.5 20.4 23.6 

Health and Hospitals 2.8 5.2 7.7 13.6 14.8 17.0 

Natural Resources 5.0 8.4 11.0 11.5 13.7 14.2 

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United 

States: 1974 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1974), p. 246. 

70 The Crisis of Democracy 

in total governmental expenditures. In 1960 the federal 
government share of total government spending, 59.7 per- 
cent, was virtually identical with what it had been ten years 
earlier, 60.3 percent. By 1971, 4he relative growth in state 
and local spending had dropped the federal share of 
governmental expenditures down to 53.8 percent of total 
governmental expenditures. 4 

The major increases in government spending during the 
1960s occurred in education, social security and related 
insurance benefits, public welfare, interest on the public 
debt, health, and hospitals. In 1960, government at all levels 
in the United States spent about 125 percent more for 
defense than it did for education; in 1972 it spent less than 
15 percent more. In 1960, defense spending was about 
four-and-a-half times that for social security ; in 1 972 it was less 
than twice as much. In 1960 ten times as much was spent on 
defense as on welfare; in 1972 the ratio was less than four to 
one. Even in terms of federal government spending alone, the 
same trends. were visible. In FY 1960, total foreign affairs 
spending accounted for 53.7 percent of the federal budget, 
while expenditures for cash income maintenance accounted 
for 22.3 percent. In FY 1974, according to Brookings 
Institution estimates, almost equal amounts were spent for 
both these purposes, with foreign affairs taking 33 percent 
and cash income maintenance 31 percent of the federal 
budget. 5 Across the board, the tendency was for massive 
increases in governmental expenditures to provide cash and 
benefits for particular individuals and groups within society 
rather than in expenditures designed to serve national 
purposes vis-a-vis the external environment. 

The Welfare Shift, like the Defense Shift before it, 
underlined the close connection between the structure of 
governmental activity and the trend of public opinion. 
During the 1940s and early 1950s, the American public 
willingly approved massive programs for defense and 
international affairs. When queried on whether the military 

The United States 71 

budget or the size of the armed forces should be increased, 
decreased, or remain about the same, the largest proportions 
of the public almost consistently supported a greater military 
effort. In March 1950, for instance, before the Korean war 
and the NSC 68 rearmament effort, 64 percent of the public 
thought defense spending should be increased, 7 percent 
thought it should be decreased and 24 percent thought it 
should remain about the same. These figures were typical 
results of the early years of the Cold War. During the middle 
and later 1950s, after defense spending had in fact expanded 
greatly, support for still further expansion eased somewhat. 
But even then, only _a small minority of the public supported 
a decrease, with the largest group approving the existing level 
of defense effort. Popular support for other government 
programs, including all domestic programs and foreign aid,' 
almost always was substantially less than support for defense 
spending. 6 

During the mid-1960s, at the peak of the democratic surge 
and of the Vietnam war, public opinion on these issues 
changed drastically. When asked in 1960, for instance, how 
they felt about current defense spending, 1 8 percent of the 
public said the United States was spending too much on 
defense, 21 percent said too little, and 45 percent said the 
existing level was about right. Nine years later, in July 1969, 
the proportion of the public saying that too much was being 
spent on defense had zoomed up from 18 percent to 52 
percent; the proportion thinking that too little was being 
spent on defense had dropped from 2 1 percent to 8 percent 
and the proportion approving the current level had declined 
from 45 percent to 3 1 percent. This new pattern of opinion 
on defense remained relatively stable during the late 1960s 
and early 1970s. Simultaneously, public opinion became 
more favorable to governmental spending for domestic 
programs. When polled in 1974, for instance, on whether 
spending should be increased, decreased, or remain about the 
same for some twenty-three governmental programs, the 

72 The Crisis of Democracy 

composite scores (where 50 represents maintaining the 
existing level) for domestic programs were all in favor of an 
increase* ranging from a score of 5 1 for welfare programs for 
low income families up to scoresof 84 and 86 for helping the 
elderly and developing greater self-sufficiency in energy. All 
five foreign affairs programs rated much lower than any 
domestic program, with their scores ranging from 39 for total 
defense spending down to 20 for military aid for allies. For 
every foreign affairs program, the weight of opinion was thus 
in favor of reduced rather than higher spending. The overall 
average score for domestic programs was 70, and for foreign 
policy and defense programs it was only 29. 7 During the 
1960s, a dramatic and large-scale change thus took place in 
public opinion with respect to governmental activity. 

So far, our analysis has focused on the relations between 
governmental expenditures and GNP and between different 
types of expenditures. The growth in expenditures, however, 
also raises important issues concerning the relation between 
expenditures and revenues. After the Defense Shift, during 
the 1950s and early 1960s, governmental expenditures 
normally exceeded governmental revenue, but with one 
exception (1959, when the deficit was $15 billion), the gap 
between the two was not large in any single year. In the late 
1960s, on the other hand, after the fiscal implications of the 
Welfare Shift had been felt, the overall governmental deficit 
took on new proportions. In 1968 it was $17 billion and in 
1971 $27 billion. The cumulative deficit for the five years 
from 1968 through 1971 was $43 billion. The federal 
government was, of course, the principal source of the 
overall government deficit. In nine of the ten fiscal years 
after 1965 the federal budget showed a deficit; the total 
deficit for those ten years came to an estimated $111.8 
billion, of which $74.6 billion came in the five years for FY 
1971 through FY 1975. 8 

The excess of expenditures over revenues was obviously 
one major source of the inflation which plagued the United 

The United States 73 

States, along with most other industrial countries, in the 
early 1970s. Inflation was, in effect, one way of paying for 
the new forms of government activity produced by the 
Welfare Shift. The extent of the fiscal gap, its apparent 
inevitability and intractableness, and its potentially 
destabilizing effects were sufficiently ominous for the 
existing system to generate a new variety of Marxist analysis 
of the inevitable collapse of capitalism. "The fiscal crisis of 
the capitalist state," in James O'Connor's words, "is the 
inevitable consequence of the structural gap between state 
expenditures and revenues." As Daniel Bell suggests, in 
effect, the argument represents a neo-neo-Marxism : The 
original Marxism said the capitalist crisis would result from 
anarchical competition; neo-Marxism said it would be the 
result of war and war expenditures, the garrison state; now, 
the most recent revision, taking into consideration the 
Welfare Shift, identifies the expansion of social expenditures 
as the source of the fiscal crisis of capitalism. 9 What the 
Marxists mistakenly attribute to capitalist economics, how- 
ever, is, in fact, a product of democratic politics. 

The Defense Shift involved a major expansion of the 
national effort devoted to military purposes followed by 
slight reduction and stabilization of the relation of that 
activity to total national product. The Welfare Shift has 
produced a comparable expansion and redirection of 
governmental activity. The key question is: To what extent 
will this expansion be limited in scope and time, as was the 
defense expansion, or to what extent will it be an 
open-ended, continuing phenomenon? Has nondefense 
governmental spending peaked at about 27 percent of GNP? 
Or will it increase further or, conceivably, decrease? The 
beneficiaries of governmental largesse coupled with 
governmental employees constitute a substantial portion of 
the public. Their interests clearly run counter to those groups 
in the public which receive relatively little in cash benefits 
from the government but must contribute taxes to provide 

74 The Crisis of Democracy 

governmental payments to other groups in society. On the 
one hand, history suggests that the recipients of subsidies, 
particularly producer groups, have more specific interests, are 
more self-conscious and organized, and are better able to 
secure .access to the political decision points than the more 
amorphous, less well-organized, and more diffuse taxpaying 
and consumer interests. On the other hand, there is also some 
evidence that the conditions favorable to large-scale 
governmental programs, which existed in the 1960s, may 
now be changing significantly. The political basis of the 
Welfare Shift was the expansion in political participation and 
the intensified commitment to democratic and egalitarian 
norms which existed in the 1960s. Levels of political 
participation in campaigns have leveled off, and other forms 
of political participation would appear to have declined. 
Some polls suggest that the public has become more 
conservative in its attitudes towards government generally 
and more hostile towards the expansion of governmental 
activity. In 1972, for instance, for the first time, as many 
liberals as conservatives agreed with the proposition that 
government is too big. At the same time, liberals continued 
to be heavily in favor of new government programs, such as 
national health insurance, which conservatives opposed. If, 
however, the general skepticism about what government can 
accomplish remains a significant component of public 
opinion, the pattern of governmental activity which the 
Welfare Shift produced by the early 1970s could well remain 
relatively stable for the immediate future. 

1. The Democratic Challenge to Authority 

The essence of the democratic surge of the 1960s was a 
general challenge to existing systems of authority, public and 
private. In one form or another, this challenge manifested 

The United States 75 

itself in the family, the university, business, public and 
private associations, politics, the governmental bureaucracy, 
and the military services. People no longer felt the same 
compulsion to obey those whom they had previously 
considered - superior to themselves in age, rank, status, 
expertise, character, or talents. Within most organizations, 
discipline eased and differences in status became blurred. 
Each group claimed its right to participate equally— and 
perhaps more than equally— in the decisions which affected 
itself. More precisely, in American society, authority had 
been commonly based on: organizational position, economic 
wealth, specialized expertise, legal competence, or electoral 
representativeness. Authority based on hierarchy, expertise, 
and wealth all, obviously, ran counter to the democratic and 
egalitarian temper of the times, and during the 1960s, all three 
came under heavy attack. In the university, students who 
lacked expertise, came to participate in the decision-making 
process on many important issues. In the government, 
organizational hierarchy weakened, and organizational sub- 
ordinates more readily acted to ignore, to criticize, or to 
defeat the wishes of their organizational superiors. In politics 
generally, the authority of wealth was challenged and 
successful efforts made to introduce reforms to expose and 
to limit its influence. Authority derived from legal and 
electoral sources did not necessarily run counter to the spirit 
of the times, but when it did, it too was challenged and 
restricted. The commandments of judges and the actions of 
legislatures were legitimate to the extent that they promoted, 
as they often did, egalitarian and participatory goals. "Civil 
disobedience," after all, was the claim to be morally right in 
disobeying a law which was morally wrong. It implied that 
the moral value of law-abiding behavior in a society depended 
upon what was in the laws, not on the procedural due pro- 
cess by which they were enacted. Finally, electoral legitimacy 
was, obviously, more congruent with the democratic surge, 
but even so, it too at times was questioned, as the value of 

76 The Crisis of Democracy 

"categorical" representativeness was elevated to challenge the 
principle of electoral representativeness. 

The questioning of authority pervaded society. In politics, 
it manifested itself in a decline in public confidence and trust 
in political leaders and institutions, a reduction in the power 
and effectiveness of political institutions such as the political 
parties and presidency, a new importance for the "adversary" 
media and "critical" intelligentsia in public affairs, and a 
weakening of the coherence, purpose, and self-confidence of 
political leadership. 

2. Decline in Public Confidence and Trust 

In a democracy, the authority of governmental leaders and 
institutions presumably depends in part on the extent to 
which the public has confidence and trust in those 
institutions and leaders. During the 1960s that confidence 
and trust declined markedly in the United States. That 
decline can, in turn, be related back to a somewhat earlier 
tendency towards ideological and policy polarization which, 
in turn, had its roots in the expansion of political 
participation in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The 
democratic surge involved a more politically active citizenry, 
which developed increased ideological consistency on public 
issues, and which then lost its confidence in public institu- 
tions and leaders when governmental policies failed to 
correspond to what they desired. The sequence and direction 
of these shifts in public opinion dramatically illustrates how 
the vitality of democracy in the 1960s (as manifested in 
increased political participation) produced problems for the 
governability of democracy in the 1970s (as manifested in 
the decreased public confidence in government). 

During the 1960s public opinion on major issues of public 
policy tended to become more polarized and ideologically 
structured, that is, people tended to hold more consistent 
liberal or conservative attitudes on public policy issues. 

The United States 11 

Between 1956 and 1960, for instance, an index of ideological 
consistency for the average American voter hovered about 
.15; in 1964 it more than doubled to .40 and remained at 
similar levels through 1972. 10 Thus, the image of American 
voters as. independently and pragmatically making up their 
minds in ad hoc fashion on the merits of different issues 
became rather far removed from actuality. 

This pattern of developing polarization and ideological 
consistency had its roots in two factors. First, those who are 
more active in politics are also more likely to have consistent 
and systematic views on policy issues. The increase in 
political participation in the early 1960s was thus followed 
by heightened polarization of political opinion in the 
mid-1960s. The increase in polarization, in turn, often 
involved higher levels of group consciousness (as among 
blacks) which then stimulated more political participation (as 
in the white backlash). 

Second, the polarization was clearly related to the nature 
of the issues which became the central items on the political 
agenda of the mid-1960s. The three major clusters of issues 
which then came to the fore were: social issues, such as use 
of drugs, civil liberties, and the role of women; racial issues, 
involving integration, busing, government aid to minority 
groups, and urban riots;- military issues, involving primarily, 
of course, the war in Vietnam but also the draft, military 
spending, military aid programs, and the role of the 
military-industrial complex more generally. All three sets of 
issues, but particularly the social and racial issues, tended to 
generate high correlations between the stands which people 
took on individual issues and their overall political ideology. 
On more strictly economic issues, on the other hand, 
ideology was a much less significant factor. Thus, to predict 
positions of individuals on the legalization of marijuana or 
school integration or the size of the defense budget, one 
would want to ask them whether they considered themselves 
liberals, moderates, or conservatives. To predict their stand 

78 The Crisis of Democracy 

on federally financed health insurance, one should ask them 
whether they were Democrats, Independents, or Re- 
publicans. 11 

The polarization over issues in the mid-1 960s in part, at 
least, .explains the major decline in trust and confidence in 
government of the later 1960s. Increasingly, substantial 
portions of the American public took more extreme positions 
on policy issues; those who took more extreme positions on 
policy issues, in turn, tended to become more distrustful of 
government. 12 Polarization over issues generated distrust 
about government, as those who had strong positions on 
issues became dissatisfied with the ambivalent, compromising 
policies of government. Political leaders, in effect, alienated 
more and more people by attempting to please them through 
the time-honored traditional politics of compromise. 

At the end of the 1950s, for instance, about three-quarters 
of the American people thought that their government was 
run primarily for the benefit of the people and only 17 
percent thought that it primarily responded to what "big 
interests" wanted. These proportions steadily changed during 
the 1960s, stabilizing at very different levels in the early 
1970s. By the latter half of 1972, only 38 percent of the 
population thought that government was "run for the benefit 
of all the people" and a majority of 53 percent thought that 
it was "run by a few big interests looking out for 
themselves." (See Table 3.) In 1959, when asked what they 
were most proud of about their country, 85 percent of 
Americans (as compared to 46 percent of Britons, 30 percent 
of Mexicans, 7 percent of Germans, and 3 percent of Italians, 
in the same comparative survey) mentioned their "political 
institutions." By 1973, however, 66 percent of a national 
sample of Americans said that they were dissatisfied by the 
way in which their country was governed. 13 In similar 
fashion, in 1958, 71 percent of the population felt that they 
could trust the government in Washington to do what was 
right "all" or "most" of the time, while only 23 percent said 





































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80 The Crisis of Democracy 

that they could trust it only "some" or "none" of the time. 
By late 1972, however, the percentage which would trust the 
national government to do what was right all or most of the 
time had declined to 52 percent, while that which thought it 
would do what was right only some or none of the time had 
doubled to 45 percent. (See Table 4.) Again, the pattern of 
change shows a high level of confidence in the 1 950s, a sharp 
decline of confidence during the 1960s, and a leveling off at 
much reduced levels of confidence in the early 1970s. 

The precipitous decline in public confidence in their 
leaders in the latter part of the 1 960s and the leveling off or 
partial restoration of confidence in the early 1970s can also 
be seen in other data which permit a comparison between 
attitudes towards government and other major institutions in 
society. Between 1966 and 1971 the proportion of the 
population having a "great deal of confidence" in the leaders 
of each of the major governmental institutions was cut in 
half. (See Table 5.) By 1973, however, public confidence in 
the leadership of the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the 
military had begun to be renewed from the lows of two years 
earlier. Confidence in the leadership of the executive branch, 
on the other hand, was— not surprisingly— at its lowest point. 
These changes of attitudes toward governmental leadership 
did not occur in a vacuum but were part of a general 
weakening of confidence in institutional leadership. The 
leadership of the major nongovernmental institutions in 
society who had enjoyed high levels of public confidence in 
the mid-1960s— such as large corporations, higher educational 
institutions and medicine— also suffered a somewhat similar 
pattern of substantial decline and partial recovery. 
Significantly, only the leadership of the press and television 
news enjoyed more confidence in 1973 than they had in 
1966, and only in the case of television was the increase a 
substantial and dramatic one. In 1973, the institutional 
leaders in which the public had the greatest degree of 
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82 The Crisis of Democracy 

higher education, television news, and the military. 

The late 1960s and early 1970s also saw a significant 
decline from the levels of the mid-1960s in the sense of 
political efficacy on the part of" large numbers of people. In 
1966, for instance, 37 percent of the people believed that 
what they thought "doesn't count much anymore"; in 1973 
a substantial majority of 61 percent of the people believed 
this. Similarly, in 1960 42 percent of the American public 
scored "high" on a political efficacy index developed by the 
Michigan Survey Research Center and only 28 percent of the 
population scored "low." By 1968, however, this distribution 
had changed dramatically, with 38 percent of the people 
scoring "high" and 44 percent of the population scoring 
"low." 14 This decline in political efficacy coincided with and 
undoubtedly was closely related to the simultaneous decline 
in the confidence and trust which people had in government. 
As of the early 1970s, however, the full impact of this change 
in political efficacy upon the overall level of political 
participation had only partially begun to manifest itself. 

In terms of traditional theory about the requisites for a 
viable democratic polity, these trends of the 1960s thus end 
up as a predominantly negative but still mixed report. On the 
one side, there is the increasing distrust and loss of confidence 
in government, the tendencies towards the polarization of 
opinion, and the declining sense of political efficacy. On the 
other, there is the early rise in political participation over 
previous levels. As we have suggested, these various trends 
may well all be interrelated. The increases in participation 
first occurred in the 1950s; these were followed by the 
polarization over racial, social, and military issues in the 
mid-1960s; this, in turn, was followed by the decrease in 
confidence and trust in government and individual political 
efficacy in the late 1960s. There is reason to believe that this 
sequence was not entirely accidental. 15 Those who are active 
in politics are likely to have more systematic and consistent 
views on political issues, and those who have such views are, 

The United States 


Table 5 

Proportion of Public Expressing "Great Deal of Confidence" 
in Leadership of Institutions 

1966 1971 1972 1973 1966-73 

Federal executive 

41% 23% 27% 19% 








Supreme Court 












Social Institutions 

Major companies 






Organized labor 





- 2 

Higher education 












Organized religion 





- 5 






+ 1 

Television news 






Question: As far as people running these institutions are concerned, 
•would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only 
some confidence, or hardly any confidence in them? 

Source: Louis Harris and Associates, Confidence and Concern: Citizens 
View American Government. Committee Print, U.S. Senate, 
Committee on Government Operations, Subcommittee on Inter- 
governmental Relations, 93rd Congress, 1st Session, December 3, 1973. 

84 The Crisis of Democracy 

as we have shown above, likely to become alienated if 
government action does not reflect their views. This logic 
would also suggest that those who are most active politically 
should be most dissatisfied with the political system. In the 
past, exactly the reverse has been the case: the active political 
participants have had highly positive attitudes towards 
government and policies. Now, however, this relationship 
seems to be weakening, and those who have low trust in 
government are no more likely to be politically apathetic 
than those with high trust in government. 16 

The decline in the average citizen's sense of political 
efficacy could also produce a decline in levels of political 
participation. Tri fact, the presidential election of 1972 did 
see a substantial decline in the level of reported interest in 
the election and a leveling off of citizen campaign activity as 
compared to the levels in the 1968 election. 17 There is, thus, 
some reason to think that there may be a cyclical process of 
interaction in which: 

(1) Increased political participation leads to increased 
policy polarization within society; 

(2) Increased policy polarization leads to increasing 
distrust and a sense of decreasing political efficacy 
among individuals; 

(3) A sense of decreasing political efficacy leads to 
decreased political participation. 

In addition, change in the principal issues on the political 
agenda could lead to decreasing ideological polarization. The 
fire has subsided with respect to many of the heated issues 
of the 1960s, and, at the moment, they have been displaced 
on the public agenda by overwhelming preoccupation with 
economic issues, first inflation and then recession and 
unemployment. The positions of people on economic issues, 
however, are not as directly related to their basic ideological 
inclinations as their positions on other issues. In addition, 
inflation and unemployment are like crime; no one is in favor 
of them, and significant differences can only appear if there 

The United States 85 

are significantly different alternative programs for dealing 
with them. Such programs, however, have been slow in 
materializing; hence, the salience of economic issues may give 
rise to generalized feelings of lack of confidence in the 
political system but not to dissatisfaction rooted in the 
failure of government to follow a particular set of policies. 
Such generalized alienation could, in turn, reinforce 
tendencies towards political passivity engendered by the 
already observable decline in the sense of political efficacy. 
This suggests that the democratic surge of the 1 960s could 
well generate its own countervailing forces, that an upsurge 
of political participation produces conditions which favor a 
downswing in political participation. 

3. The Decay of the Party System 

The decline in the role of political parties in the United 
States in the 1960s can be seen in a variety of ways. 

(a) Party identification has dropped sharply, and the 
proportion of the public which considers itself Independent 
in politics has correspondingly increased. In 1972 more 
people identified themselves as Independent than identified 
themselves as Republican, and among those under thirty, 
there were more Independents than Republicans and 
Democrats combined. Younger voters always tend to be less 
partisan than older voters. But the proportion of 
Independents among this age group has gone up sharply. In 
1950, for instance, 28 percent of the twenty-one to twenty- 
nine-year-old group identified themselves as Independent; in 
1971, 43 percent of this age group did. 18 Thus, unless there 
is a reversal of this trend and a marked upswing in partisan- 
ship, substantially lower levels of party identification among 
the American electorate are bound to persist for at least 
another generation. 

(b) Party voting has declined, and ticket-splitting has 
become a major phenomenon. In 1950 about 80 percent of 

86 The Crisis of Democracy 

the voters cast straight party ballots; in 1970 only 50 percent 
did. 19 Voters are thus more inclined to vote for the 
candidate than to vote for the party, and this, in turn, means 
that candidates have to campaign primarily as individuals and 
sell themselves to the voters in terms of their own personality 
and talents, rather than joining with the other candidates of 
their party in a collaborative partisan effort. Hence they must 
also raise their own money and create their own organization. 
The phenomenon represented at the extreme by CREEP and 
its isolation from the Republican National Committee in the 
1972 election is being duplicated in greater or lesser measure 
in other electoral contests. 

(c) Partisan consistency in voting is also decreasing, that is, 
voters are more likely to vote Republican in one election and 
Democratic in the next. At the national level, there is a 
growing tendency for public opinion to swing generally back 
and forth across the board, with relatively little regard to the 
usual differences among categorical voting groups. Four out 
of the six presidential elections since 1952 have been 
landslides. This phenomenon is a product of the weakening 
of party ties and the decline of regionalism in politics. In 
1920 Harding received about the same percentage of the 
popular vote that Nixon did in 1972, but Harding lost eleven 
states while Nixon lost only Massachusetts and the District of 
Columbia. 20 In a similar vein, the fact that the voters cast 60 
percent of their votes for Nixon in 1972 did not prevent 
them from reelecting a Democratic Congress that year and 
then giving the Democrats an even more overwhelming 
majority in Congress two years later. 

As the above figures suggest, the significance of party as a 
guide to electoral behavior has declined substantially. In part, 
but only in part, candidate appeal took its place. Even more 
important was the rise of issues as a significant factor 
affecting voting behavior. Previously, if one wanted to 
predict how individuals would vote in a congressional or 
presidential election, the most important fact to know about 

The United States 87 

them was their party identification. This is no longer the 
case. In 1956 and 1960, party identification was three or 
four times as important as the views of voters on issues in 
predicting how they would vote. In the 1964 and subsequent 
elections, this relationship reversed itself. Issue politics has 
replaced party politics as the primary influence on mass 
political behavior. 21 This is true, also, not only with respect 
to the public and electoral behavior but also with respect to 
members of Congress and legislative behavior. Party is no 
longer as significant a guide as it once was to how members 
of Congress will vote. In the House of Representatives, for 
instance, during Truman's second term (1949-52), 54.5 
percent of the roll call votes were party unity votes, in which 
a majority of one party opposes a majority of the other 
party. This proportion has declined steadily to the point 
where in Nixon's first term (1969«72), only 3 1 percent of the 
roll call votes were party unity votes. 22 

The decline in the salience of party for the mass public is 
also, in some measure, reflected in the attitudes of the public 
toward the parties as institutions. In 1972, the public was 
asked which of the four major institutions of the national 
government (President, Congress, Supreme Court, and 
political parties) had done the best job and the worst job in 
the past few years and which was most powerful and least 
powerful. On both dimensions, the differences among the 
three formal branches of the national government were, while 
clearly observable, not all that great. Not one of the others, 
however, came close to the political parties as the voters' 
choice for doing the worst job and being the least powerful. 
(See Table 6.) While these data could conceivably be 
interpreted in a variety of ways, when they are viewed in the 
context of the other evidence on the decline of partisan 
loyalty, they strongly suggest that the popular attitude 
towards parties combines both disapproval and contempt. As 
might be expected, these attitudes are particularly marked 
among those under twenty-five years of age. In 1973, for 

88 The Crisis of Democracy 

instance, 61 percent of college youth and 64 percent of 
noncollege youth believed that political parties needed to be 
reformed or to be eliminated; in comparison, 54 percent of 
the college youth and 45 percent of the noncollege youth 
believed big business needed to be reformed or eliminated. 23 

Table 6 
Attitudes Towards Governmental Institutions, 1972 

Best Job Most Powerful 

Worst Job 

Least Powerful 


--■ 39% 









Supreme Court 





Political Parties 





Questions: (1) Which of the parts of the government on this list 
do you think has done the best (worst) job in the 
past couple of years? 

(2) Which part of the government on the list would you 
say is the most (least) powerful? 

Source: University of Michigan, Center for Political Studies, 1972 
postelection survey. 

Not only has the mass base of the parties declined but so 
also has the coherence and strength of party organization. 
The political party has, indeed, become less of an 
organization, with a life and interest of its own, and more of 
an arena in which other actors pursue their interests. In some 
respects, of course, the decline of party organization is an old 
and familiar phenomenon. The expansion of government 

The United States 89 

welfare functions beginning with the New Deal, the increased 
pervasiveness of the mass media, particularly television, and 
the higher levels of affluence and education among the public 
have all tended over the years to weaken the traditional bases 
of party organization. During the 1960s, however, this trend 
seemed to accelerate. In both major parties, party leaders 
found it difficult to maintain control of the most central and 
important function of the party: the selection of candidates 
for public office. In part, the encroachment on party 
organization was the result of the mobilization of issue 
constituencies by issue-oriented candidates, of whom 
Goldwater, McCarthy, Wallace, and McGovern were the 
principal examples on the national level. In part, however, it 
was simply a reaction against party politics and party leaders. 
Endorsements by party leaders or by party conventions 
carried little positive weight and were often a liability. The 
"outsider" in politics, or the candidate who could make 
himself or herself appear to be an outsider, had the inside 
road to political office. In New York in 1974, for instance, 
four of five candidates for statewide office endorsed by the 
state Democratic convention were defeated by the voters in 
the Democratic primary; the party leaders, it has been aptly 
said, did not endorse Hugh Carey for governor because he 
could not win, and he won because they did not endorse him. 
The lesson of the 1960s was that American political parties 
were extraordinarily open and extraordinarily vulnerable 
organizations, in the sense that they could be easily 
penetrated, and even captured, by highly motivated and 
well-organized groups with a cause and a candidate. 

The trends in party reform and organization in the 1960s 
were all designed to open the parties even further and to 
encourage fuller participation in party affairs. In some 
measure, these reforms could conceivably mitigate the 
peculiar paradox in which popular participation in politics 
was going up, but the premier organization designed to 
structure and organize that participation, the political party, 

90 The Crisis of Democracy 

was declining. At the same time, the longer-term effect of the 
reforms could be very different from that which was 
intended. In the democratic surge during the Progressive era 
at the turn of the century, the direct primary was widely 
adopted as a means of insuring popular control of the party 
organization. In fact, however, the primary reinforced the 
power of the political bosses whose followers in the party 
machine always voted in the primaries. In similar fashion, the 
reforms of the 1970s within the Democratic party to insure 
the representation of all significant groups and viewpoints in 
party conventions appeared likely to give the party leaders at 
the national convention new influence over the choice of the 
presid ential nominee. 

As we have indicated, the signs of decay in the American 
party system have their parallels in the party systems of other 
industrialized democratic countries. In addition, however, the 
developments of the 1960s in the American party system can 
also be viewed in terms of the historical dynamics of 
American politics. According to the standard theory of 
American politics, a major party realignment occurs, usually 
in conjunction with a "critical election," approximately 
every twenty-eight to thirty-six years: 1800, 1828, 1860, 
1898, 1932. 24 In terms of this theory, such a realignment 
was obviously due about 1968. In fact, many of the signs of 
party decay which were present in the 1960s have also 
historically accompanied major party realignments: a decline 
in party identification, increased electoral volatility, third 
party movements, the loosening of the bonds between social 
groups and political parties, and the rise of new policy issues 
which cut across the older cleavages. The decay of the old 
New Deal party system was clearly visible, and the emergence 
of a new party system was eagerly awaited, at least by 
politicians and political analysts. Yet neither in 1 968 nor in 
1972 did a new coalition of groups emerge to constitute a 
new partisan majority and give birth to a new party 
alignment. Nor did there seem to be any significant evidence 

The United States 91 

that such a realignment was likely in 1976— by which time it 
would be eight to sixteen years overdue according to the 
"normal" pattern of party system evolution. 

Alternatively, the signs of party decomposition could be 
interpreted as presaging not simply a realignment of parties 
within an ongoing system but rather a more fundamental 
decay and potential dissolution of the party system. In this 
respect, it could be argued that the American party system 
emerged during the Jacksonian years of the mid-nineteenth 
century, that it went through realignments in the 1850s, 
1890s, and 1930s, but that it reached its peak in terms of 
popular commitment and organizational strength in the last 
decades of the nineteenth century, and that since then it has 
been going through a slow, but now accelerating, process of 
disintegration. To support this proposition, it could be 
argued that political parties are a political form peculiarly 
suited to the needs of industrial society and that the 
movement of the United States into a post-industrial phase 
hence means the end of the political party system as we have 
known it. If this be the case, a variety of critical issues must 
be faced. Is democratic government possible without political 
parties? If political participation is not organized by means of 
parties, how will it be organized? If parties decline, will not 
popular participation also drop significantly? In less 
developed countries, the principal alternative to party 
government is military government. Do the highly developed 
countries have a third alternative? 

4. The Shifting Balance Between Government and Opposition 

The governability of a democracy depends upon the 
relation between the authority of its governing institutions 
and the power of its opposition institutions. In a 
parliamentary system, the authority of the cabinet depends 
upon the balance of power between the governing parties and 
the opposition parties in the legislature. In the United States, 

92 The Crisis of Democracy 

the authority of government depends upon the balance of 
power between a broad coalition of governing institutions 
and groups, which includes but transcends the legislature and 
other formal institutions of government, and the power of 
those institutions and groups which are committed to 
opposition. During the 1 960s the balance of power between 
government and opposition shifted significantly. The central 
governing institution in the political system, the presidency, 
declined in power; institutions playing opposition roles in the 
system, most notably the national media and Congress, 
significantly increased their power. 

"Who governs?" is obviously one of the most important 
questions to ask concerning any political system. Even more 
important, however, may be the question: "Does anybody 
govern?" To the extent that the United States was governed 
by anyone during the decades after World War II, it was 
governed by the president acting with the support and 
cooperation of key individuals and groups in the Executive 
Office, the federal bureaucracy, Congress, and the more 
important businesses, banks, law firms, foundations, and 
media, which constitute the private establishment. In the 
twentieth century, when the American political system has 
moved systematically with respect to public policy, the 
direction and the initiative have come from the White House. 
When the president is unable to exercise authority, when he 
is unable to command the cooperation of key decision- 
makers elsewhere in society and government, no one else has 
been able to supply comparable purpose and initiative. To 
the extent that the United States has been governed on a 
national basis, it has been governed by the president. During 
the 1960s and early 1970s, however, the authority of the 
president declined significantly, and the governing coalition 
which had, in effect, helped the president to run the country 
from the early 1940s down to the early 1960s began to 

These developments were, in some measure, a result of the 

The United States 93 

extent to which all forms of leadership, but particularly those 
associated with or tainted by politics, tended to lose 
legitimacy in the 1960s and early 1970s. Not only was there 
a decline in the confidence of the public in political leaders, 
but there was also a marked decline in the confidence of 
political leaders in themselves. In part, this was the result of 
what were perceived to be significant policy failures: the 
failure "to win" the war in Indochina; the failure of the 
Great Society's social programs to achieve their anticipated 
results; and the intractability of inflation. These perceived 
failures induced doubts among political leaders of the 
effectiveness of their rule. In addition, and probably more 
importantly, political leaders also had doubts about the 
morality of their rule. They too shared in the democratic, 
participatory, and egalitarian ethos of the times, and hence 
had questions about the legitimacy of hierarchy, coercion, 
discipline, secrecy, and deception— all of which are, in some 
measure, inescapable attributes of the process of govern- 

Probably no development of the 1960s and 1970s has 
greater import for the future of American politics than the 
decline in the authority, status, influence, and effectiveness 
of the presidency. The effects of the weakening of the 
presidency will be felt throughout the body politic for years 
to come. The decline of the presidency manifests itself in a 
variety of ways. 

No one of the last four presidents has served a full course 
of eight years in office. One President has been assasinated, 
one forced out of office because of opposition to his policies, 
and another forced out because of opposition to him 

*And also, as my colleague Sidney Verba comments at this point, one 
must not forget that "disorder, distrust of authority, difficulties in 
reconciling competing claims on the government, conflict among 
governmental branches, and yelling from the back of the room at city 
council meetings are in some measure inescapable attributes of 
democratic government." 

94 The Crisis of Democracy 

personally. Short terms in office reduce the effectiveness of 
the president in dealing with both enemies and allies abroad 
and bureaucrats and members of Congress at home. The 
greatest weakness in the presidency in American history was 
during the period from 1848 to 1860, during which twelve 
years four presidents occupied the office and none of them 
was reelected. 

At present, for the first time since the Jacksonian 
revolution, the United States has a president and a vice- 
president who are not the product of a national electoral 
process. Both the legitimacy and the power of the presidency 
are weakened to the extent that the president does not come 
into office through an involvement in national politics which 
compels him to mobilize support throughout the country, 
negotiate alliances with diverse economic, ethnic, and region- 
al groups and defeat his adversaries in intensely fought state 
and national electoral battles. The current president is a 
product of Grand Rapids and the House— not of the nation. 
The United States has almost returned, at least temporarily, 
to the relations between Congress and president which 
prevailed during the congressional caucus period in the 
second decade of the nineteenth century. 

Since Theodore Roosevelt, at least, the presidency has 
been viewed as the most popular branch of government and 
that which is most likely to provide the leadership for 
progressive reform. Liberals, progressives, intellectuals have 
all seen the presidency as the key to change in American 
politics, economics, and society. The great presidents have 
been the strong presidents, who stretched the legal authority 
and political resources of the office to mobilize support for 
their policies and to put through their legislative program. In 
the 1960s, however, the tide of opinion dramatically reversed 
itself: those who previously glorified presidential leadership 
now warn of the dangers of presidential power. 

While much was made in the press and elsewhere during 
the 1960s about the dangers of the abuses of presidential 

The United States 95 

power, this criticism of presidential power was, in many 
respects, evidence of the decline of presidential power. 
Certainly the image which both Presidents Johnson and 
Nixon had of their power was far different, and probably 
more accurate, if only because it was" self-fulfilling, than the 
images which the critics of the presidency had of presidential 
power. Both Johnson and Nixon saw themselves as isolated 
and beleaguered, surrounded by hostile forces in the 
bureaucracy and the establishment. Under both of them, a 
feeling almost of political paranoia pervaded the White 
House: a sense that the president and his staff were "an 
island" in a hostile world. On the one hand, these feelings of 
suspicion and mistrust led members of the president's staff to 
engage in reckless, illegal, and self-defeating actions to 
counter his "enemies"; on the other hand, these feelings also 
made it all the more difficult for them to engage in the 
political compromises and to exercise the political leadership 
necessary to mobilize his supporters. 

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Congress and the 
courts began to impose a variety of formal restrictions on 
presidential power, in the form of the War Powers Act, the 
budgetary reform act, the limits on presidential impound- 
ment of funds, and similar measures. 

At the same time, and more importantly, the effectiveness 
of the president as the principal leader of the nation declined 
also as a result of the decline in the effectiveness of 
leadership at other levels in society and government. The 
absence of strong central leadership in Congress (on the 
Rayburn-Johnson model, for instance) made it impossible for 
a president to secure support from Congress in an economical 
fashion. The diffusion of authority in Congress meant a 
reduction in the authority of the president. There was no 
central leadership with whom he could negotiate and come to 
terms. The same was true with respect to the cabinet. The 
general decline in the status of cabinet secretaries was often 
cited as evidence of the growth in the power of the 

96 The Crisis of Democracy 

presidency on the grounds that the White House office was 
assuming powers which previously rested with the cabinet. 
But in fact the decline in the status of cabinet secretaries 
made it more difficult for the, president to command the 
support and cooperation of the executive bureaucracy; weak 
leadership at the departmental level produces weakened 
leadership at the presidential level. 

To become president a candidate has to put together an 
electoral coalition involving a majority of voters 
appropriately distributed across the country. He normally 
does this by: (1) developing an identification with certain 
issues and positions which bring him the support of key 
categorical groups—economic, regional, ethnic, racial, and 
religious; and (2) cultivating the appearance of certain general 
characteristics— honesty, energy, practicality, decisiveness, 
sincerity, and experience— which appeal generally across the 
board to people in all categorical groups. Before the New 
Deal, when the needs of the national government in terms of 
policies, programs, and personnel were relatively small, the 
president normally relied on the members of his electoral 
coalition to help him govern the country. Political leaders in 
Congress, in the state houses, and elsewhere across the 
country showed up in Washington to run the administration, 
and the groups which comprised the electoral coalition acted 
to put through Congress the measures in which they were 

Since the 1930s, however, the demands on government 
have grown tremendously and the problems of constituting a 
governing coalition have multiplied commensurately. Indeed, 
once he is elected president, the president's electoral 
coalition has, in a sense, served its purpose. The day after his 
election the size of his majority is almost— if not entirely- 
irrelevant to his ability to govern the country. What counts 
then is his ability to govern the country. What counts then is 
his ability to mobilize support from the leaders of the key 
institutions in society and government. He has to constitute a 

The United States 97 

broad governing coalition of strategically located supporters 
who can furnish him with the information, talent, expertise, 
workforce, publicity, arguments, and political support which 
he needs to develop a program, to embody it in legislation, 
and to see it effectively implemented. This coalition, as we 
have indicated, must include key people in Congress, the 
executive branch, and the private establishment. The govern- 
ing coalition need have little relation to the electoral 
coalition. The fact that the president as a candidate put 
together a successful electoral coalition does not insure that 
he will have a viable governing coalition. 

For twenty years after World War II presidents operated 
with the cooperation of a series of informal governing 
coalitions. Truman made a point of bringing a substantial 
number of nonpartisan soldiers, Republican bankers, and 
Wall Street lawyers into his administration. He went to the 
existing sources of power in the country to get the help he 
needed in ruling the country. Eisenhower in part inherited 
this coalition and was in part almost its creation. He also 
mobilized a substantial number of midwestern businessmen 
into his administration and established close and effective 
working relationships with the Democratic leadership of 
Congress. During his brief administration, Kennedy 
attempted to recreate a somewhat similar structure of 
alliances. Johnson was acutely aware of the need to maintain 
effective working relations with the Eastern establishment 
and other key groups in the private sector, but, in effect, in 
1965 and 1966 was successful only with respect to Congress. 
The informal coalition of individuals and groups which had 
buttressed the power of the three previous presidents began 
to disintegrate. 

Both Johnson and his successor were viewed with a certain 
degree of suspicion by many of the more liberal and 
intellectual elements which might normally contribute their 
support to the administration. The Vietnam war and, to a 
lesser degree, racial issues divided elite groups as well as the 

98 The Crisis of Democracy 

mass public. In addition, the number and variety of groups 
whose support might be necessary had increased 
tremendously by the 1960s. Truman had been able to govern 
the country with the cooperation of a relatively small 
number of Wall Street lawyers and bankers. By the 
mid-1960s, the sources of power in society had diversified 
tremendously, and this was no longer possible. 

The most notable new source of national power in 1970, 
as compared to 1950, was the national media, meaning here 
the national TV networks, the national news magazines, and 
the major newspapers with national reach such as the 
Washington Bosl and the New York Times.* There is, for 
instance, considerable evidence to suggest that the develop- 
ment of television journalism contributed to the undermining 
of governmental authority. The advent of the half-hour 
nightly news broadcast in 1963 led to greatly increased 
popular dependence on television as a source of news. It also 
greatly expanded the size of the audience for news. At the 
same time, the themes which were stressed, the focus on 

*Suggestive of the new power relationships between government and 
media were the responses of 490 leading Americans when asked to rate 
a number of public and private institutions according to "the amount 
of influence" they had "on decisions or actions affecting the nation as a 
whole." Television came in a clear first, well ahead of the president, and 
newspapers edged out both houses of Congress. The average ratings, on 
a scale from 1 (lowest influence) to 10 (highest influence), were: 





White House 


Supreme Court 






Labor unions 




U.S. Senate 



Government bureaucracy 


U.S. House of Representatives 


U.S. News and World Report (April 22, 1974) 

The United States 99 

controversy and violence, and, conceivably, the values and 
outlook of the journalists, tended to arouse unfavorable 
attitudes towards established institutions and to promote a 
decline in confidence in government, "Most newsmen," as 
Walter Cronkite put it, "come to feel very little allegiance to 
the established order. I think they are inclined to side with 
humanity rather than with authority and institutions." 25 
And, in fact, public opinion surveys show that, even with 
controls for education and income, increased reliance on 
television for news is associated with low political efficacy, 
social distrust, cynicism, and weak party loyalty. 26 Tele- 
vision news, in short, functions as a "dispatriating" agency- 
one which portrays the conditions in society as undesirable 
and as getting worse. In the 1960s, the network organiza- 
tions, as one analyst put it, became "a highly creditable, 
never-tiring political opposition, a maverick third party which 
never need face the sobering experience of governing." 27 

Less dramatic but somewhat parallel changes also occurred 
in the political role of newspapers. It is a long-established and 
familiar political fact that within a city and even within a 
state, the power of the local press serves as a major check on 
the power of the local government. In the early twentieth 
century, the United States developed an effective national 
government, making and implementing national policies. 
Only in recent years, however, has there come into existence 
a national press with the economic independence and 
communications reach to play a role with respect to the 
president that a local newspaper plays with respect to a 
mayor. This marks the emergence of a very significant check 
on presidential power. In the two most dramatic domestic 
policy conflicts of the Nixon administration— the Pentagon 
Papers and Watergate— organs of the national media 
challenged and defeated the national executive. The press, 
indeed, played a leading role in bringing about what no other 
single institution, group, or combination of institutions and 
groups, had done previously in American history: forcing out 

100 The Crisis of Democracy 

of office a president who had been elected less than two 
years earlier by one of the largest popular majorities in 
American history. No future president can or will forget that 
fact. . _-. . 

The 1960s and early 1970s also saw a reassertion of the 
power of Congress. In part, this represented simply the latest 
phase in the institutionalized constitutional conflict between 
Congress and president; in part, also, of course, it reflected 
the fact that after 1968 president and Congress were 
controlled by different parties. In addition, however, these 
years saw the emergence, first in the Senate and then in the 
House, of a new generation of congressional activists willing 
to challenge established authority in their own chambers as 
well as in the presidency. 

The new power of the media and the new assertiveness of 
Congress also had their impact on the relations between the 
executive branch and the president. During the Johnson and 
Nixon administrations the White House attitude toward 
executive branch agencies often seemed to combine mistrust 
of them, on the one hand, and the attempt to misuse them, 
on the other. In part, no doubt, the poisoning of the relation- 
ship between White House and executive agencies reflected 
the fact that not since Franklin Roosevelt has this country 
had a chief executive with any significant experience as a 
political executive. The record to date of former legislators 
and generals in the presidency suggests they do not come to 
that office well equipped to motivate, energize, guide, and 
control their theoretical subordinates but actual rivals in the 
executive branch agencies. The growth in the power of the 
press and of Congress inevitably strengthens the independ- 
ence of bureaucratic agencies vis-a-vis the president. Those 
agencies are secondary contributors to the decline of presi- 
dential power but primary beneficiaries of that decline. 

The increased power of the national opposition, centered 
in the press and in Congress, undoubtedly is related to and is 
perhaps a significant cause of the critical attitudes which the 

The United States 101 

public has towards the federal as compared to state and local 
government. While data for past periods are not readily 
available, certainly the impression one gets is that over the 
years the public has often tended to view state and local 
government as inefficient, corrupt, inactive, and 
unresponsive. The federal government, on the other hand, has 
seemed to command much greater confidence and trust, 
going all the way from early childhood images of the 
"goodness" of the president to respect for the FBI, Internal 
Revenue Service and other federal agencies having an impact 
on the population as models of efficiency and integrity. It 
would now appear Jthat there has been a drastic reversal of 
these images. In 1973, a national sample was asked whether it 
then had more or less confidence in each of the three levels 
of government than it had five years previously. Confidence 
in all three levels of government declined more than it rose, 
but the proportion of the public which reported a decline in 
confidence in the federal government (57 percent) was far 
higher than those reporting a decline in confidence in state 
(26 percent) or local (30 percent) government. Corroborating 
these judgements, only 1 1 percent and 1 4 percent, respec- 
tively, thought that local and state government had made 
their life worse during the past few years, while 28 percent 
and 27 percent of the population thought that local and state 
government had improved their life. In contrast, only 23 per- 
cent of the population thought that the federal government 

had improved their lives, while a whopping 37 percent thought it 
had made their lives worse. As one would expect, substantial 
majorities also went on record in favor of increasing the 
power of state government (59 percent) and of local govern- 
ment (61 percent). But only 32 percent wanted to increase 
the power of the federal government, while 42 percent voted 
to decrease its power. 28 The shift in the institutional balance 
between government and opposition at the national level thus 
corresponds neatly to the shift in popular attitudes towards 
government at the national level. 

102 The Crisis of Democracy 

The balance between government and opposition depends 
not only on the relative power of different institutions, but 
also on their roles in the political system. The presidency has 
been the principal national governing institution in the 
United States; its power has declined. The power of the 
media and of Congress has increased. Can their roles change? 
By its very nature, the media cannot govern and has strong 
incentives to assume an oppositional role. The critical 
question consequently concerns Congress. In the wake of a 
declining presidency, can Congress organize itself to furnish 
the leadership to govern the country? During most of this 
century, the trends in Congress have been in the opposite 
direction. In recent years the increase in the power of 
Congress has outstripped an increase in its ability to govern.* 
If the institutional balance is to be redressed between 
government and opposition, the decline in presidential power 
has to be reversed and the ability of Congress to govern has 
to be increased. 


The vigor of democracy in the United States in the 1960s 
thus contributed to a democratic distemper, involving the 
expansion of governmental activity, on the one hand, and the 
reduction of governmental authority, on the other. This 
democratic distemper, in turn, had further important 
consequences for the functioning of the political system. The 

There are, it might be noted, some parallels between Congress and the 
Communist parties in Europe, as described by Michel Crozier. Both 
have long been accustomed to playing opposition roles; with the decline 
in authority and power of other groups, the power of both these 
institutions is increasing; and one crucial question for the future— and 
governability— of democracy in Italy, France, and the United States is 
whether these oppositional bodies can adapt themselves to play 
responsible governing roles. Professor Crozier appears to be somewhat 
more optimistic about the European communists in this respect than I 
am about the American Congress at this moment in time. 

Tne United States 1 03 

extent of these consequences was, as of 1974, still unclear, 
depending, obviously, on the duration and the scope of the 
democratic surge. 

The expansion of governmental activity produced 
budgetary deficits and a major expansion of total 
governmental debt from $336 billion in 1960 to $557 billion 
in 1971. These deficits contributed to inflationary tendencies 
in the economy. They also brought to the fore in the early 
1970s the entire question of the incidence of the tax burden 
and the issues of tax reform. The major expansion of 
unionism in the public sector combined with the difficulty, if 
not the impossibility, of measuring productivity or efficiency 
for many bureaucratic activities made the salary and wage 
determinations for governmental employee's a central focus 
of political controversy. Unionization produced higher wages 
and more vigorous collective bargaining to secure higher 
wages. Strikes by public employees became more and more 
prevalent: in 1961, only twenty-eight strikes took place 
involving governmental workers; in 1970, there were 412 
such strikes. 29 Governmental officials were thus caught 
between the need to avoid the disruption of public services 
from strikes by governmental employees for higher wages and 
the need to avoid imposing higher taxes to pay for the higher 
wages which the governmental employees demand. The 
easiest and obviously most prevalent way of escaping from 
this dilemma is to increase wages without increasing taxes 
and thereby to add still further to governmental deficits and 
to the inflationary spiral which will serve as the justification 
for demands for still higher wages. To the extent that this 
process is accompanied by low or negative rates of economic 
growth, tax revenues will be still further limited and the 
whole vicious cycle still further exacerbated. 

At the same time that the expansion of governmental 
activity creates problems of financial solvency for 
government, the decline in governmental authority reduces 
still further the ability of government to deal effectively with 

104 The Crisis of Democracy 

these problems. The imposition of "hard" decisions imposing 
constraints on any major economic group is difficult in any 
democracy and particularly difficult in the United States 
where the separation of powers provides a variety of points 
of access to governmental decision-making for economic 
interest groups. During the Korean war, for instance, 
governmental efforts at wage and price control failed 
miserably, as business and farm groups were able to riddle 
legislation with loopholes in Congress and labor was able to 
use its leverage with the executive branch to eviscerate wage 
controls. 30 All this occurred despite the fact that there was a 
war on and thegovernment was not lacking in authority. The 
decline in governmental authority in general and of the 
central leadership in particular during the early 1 970s opens 
new opportunities to special interests to bend governmental 
behavior to their special purposes. 

In the United States, as elsewhere in the industrialized 
world, domestic problems thus become intractable problems. 
The public develops expectations which it is impossible for 
government to meet. The activities— and expenditures— of 
government expand, but the success of government in 
achieving its goals seems dubious. In a democracy, however, 
political leaders in power need to score successes if they are 
going to stay in power. The natural result is to produce a 
gravitation to foreign policy, where successes, or seeming 
successes, are much more easily arranged than they are in 
domestic policy. Trips abroad, summit meetings, declarations 
and treaties, rhetorical aggression, all produce the appearance 
of activity and achievement. The weaker a political leader is 
at home, the more likely he is to be traveling abroad. Nixon 
had to see Brezhnev in June 1974, and Tanaka, for similar 
reasons, desperately wanted to see Ford in September 1974. 
Despite the best efforts by political leaders to prop each 
other up at critical moments, there remains, nonetheless, 
only limited room for substantive agreements among nations 
among whom there are complex and conflicting interests.- 

The United States 105 

Consequently, politicians in search of bolstering their 
standing at home by achievements abroad either have to 
make a nonachievement appear to be an achievement (which 
can be done successfully only a limited number of times), or 
they have, to make an achievement which may have an 
immediate payoff but which they and, more importantly, 
their countries are likely to regret in the long run. The 
dynamics of this search for foreign policy achievements by 
democratic leaders lacking authority at home gives to 
dictatorships (whether communist party states or oil 
sheikhdoms), which are free from such compulsions, a major 
advantage in the conduct of international relations. 

The expansion of expenditures and the decrease in 
authority are also likely to encourage economic nationalism 
in democratic societies. Each country will have an interest in 
minimizing the export of some goods in order to keep prices 
down in its own society. At the same time, other interests are 
likely to demand protection against the import of foreign 
goods. In the United States, this has meant embargoes, as on 
the export of soybeans, on the one hand, and tariffs and 
quotas on the import of textiles, shoes, and comparable 
manufactured goods, on the other. A strong government will 
not necessarily follow more liberal and internationalist 
economic policies, but a weak government is almost certain 
to be incapable of doing so. The resulting unilateralism could 
well weaken still further the alliances among the Trilateral 
countries and increase their vulnerability to economic and 
military pressures from the Soviet bloc. 

Finally, a government which lacks authority and which is 
committed to substantial domestic programs will have little 
ability, short of a cataclysmic crisis, to impose on its people 
the sacrifices which may be necessary to deal with foreign 
policy problems and defense. In the early 1 970s, as we have 
seen, spending for all significant programs connected with the 
latter purposes was far more unpopular than spending for any 
major domestic purpose. The U.S. government .has given up 

106 The Crisis of Democracy 

the authority to draft its citizens into the armed forces and is 
now committed to providing the monetary incentives to 
attract volunteers with a stationary or declining percentage of 
the Gross National Product. At the present time, this would 
appear to pose no immediate deleterious consequences for 
national security. The question necessarily arises, however, 
of whether in the future, if a new threat to security should 
materialize, as it inevitably will at some point, the govern- 
ment will possess the authority to command the resources 
and the sacrifices necessary to meet that threat. 

The implications of these potential consequences of the 
democratic distemper extend far beyond the United States. 
For a quarter-century the United States was the hegemonic 
power in a system of world order. The manifestations of the 
democratic distemper, however* have already stimulated 
uncertainty among allies and could well stimulate adventur- 
ism among enemies. If American citizens don't trust their 
government, why should friendly foreigners? If American 
citizens challenge the authority of American government, 
why shouldn't unfriendly governments? The turning inward 
of American attention and the decline in the authority of 
American governing institutions are closely related, as both 
cause and effect, to the relative downturn in American power 
and influence in world affairs. A decline in the governability 
of democracy at home means a decline in the influence of 
democracy abroad. 


The immediate causes of the simultaneous expansion of 
governmental activity and the decline of governmental 
authority are to be found in the democratic surge of the 
1960s. What, however, was in turn responsible for this sharp 
increase in political consciousness, political participation, and 
commitment to egalitarian and democratic values? As we 
have indicated, the causes of the surge can be usefully 
analyzed in terms of their scope and timing. Are these causes 

The United States 107 

country-specific or Trilateral-general? Are they transitory, 
secular, or recurring? In actuality, as we have suggested, the 
causes of the democratic surge seem to partake of all these 

The most specific, immediate, and in a sense "rational" 
causes of the democratic surge could conceivably be the 
specific policy problems confronting the United States 
government in the 1960s and 1970s and its inability to deal 
effectively with those problems. Vietnam, race relations, 
Watergate, and stagflation: these could quite naturally lead to 
increased polarization over policy, higher levels of political 
participation (and protest), and reduced confidence in 
governmental institutions and leaders. In fact, these issues 
and the ways in which the government dealt with them did 
have some impact; the unraveling of Watergate was, for 
instance, followed by a significant decline in public 
confidence in the executive branch of government. More 
generally, however, a far-from-perfect fit exists between the 
perceived inability of the government to deal effectively with 
these policy problems and. the various attitudinal and 
behavioral manifestations of the democratic surge. The 
expansion of political participation was underway long 
before these problems came to a head in the mid-1960s, and 
the beginnings of the decline in trust and of the increase in 
attitude consistency go back before large-scale American 
involvement in Vietnam. Indeed, a closer look at the 
relationship between attitudes towards the Vietnam war and 
confidence in government suggests that the connection 
between the two may not be very significant. Opposition to 
U.S. involvement in Vietnam, for instance, became 
widespread among blacks in mid-1966, while among whites 
opponents of the war did not outnumber supporters until 
early 1968. In terms of a variety of indices, however, white 
confidence and trust in government declined much further 
and more rapidly than black confidence and trust during the 
middle 1960s. In late 1967, for instance, whites were divided 

108 The Crisis of Democracy 

roughly 46 percent in favor of the war and 44 percent 
against, while blacks were split 29 percent in favor and 57 
percent against. Yet in 1968, white opinion was divided 49.2 
percent to 40.5 percent on whether the government was run 
for the benefit of all or a "few big interests," while blacks 
though that it was run for the benefit of all by a margin of 
63.1 percent to 28.6 percent. 31 Black confidence in 
government plummeted only after the Nixon administration 
came to power in 1969. While the evidence is not as 
complete as one would desire, it does, nonetheless, suggest 
that the actual substantive character of governmental policies 
on the war, as well as perhaps on other matters, was of less 
significance Tor the decrease in governmental authority than 
were the changes generated by other causes in the attitudes 
of social groups towards government and in the intensity 
with which social groups held to particular political values. 

At the opposite extreme in terms of generality, the 
democratic surge can also be explained in terms of 
widespread demographic trends of the 1960s. Throughout 
the industrialized world during the 1960s, the younger age 
cohorts furnished many of the activists in the democratic and 
egalitarian challenges to established authority. In part, this 
revolt of the youth was undoubtedly the product of the 
global baby boom of the post-World War II years which 
brought to the fore in the 1960s a generational bulge which 
overwhelmed colleges and universities. This was associated 
with the rise of distinctive new values which appeared first 
among college youth and then were diffused among youth 
generally. Prominent among these new values were what have 
been described as "changes in relation to the authority of 
institutions such as the authority of the law, the police, the 
government, the boss in the work situation." These changes 
were "in the direction of what sociologists call 'de- 
authorization,' i.e., a lessening of automatic obedience to, 
and respect for, established authority. . . ." The new 
disrespect for authority on the part of youth was part and 

The United States 109 

parcel of broader changes in their attitudes and values with 
respect to sexual morality, religion as a source of moral 
guidance, and traditional patriotism and allegiance "to my 
country right or wrong." 32 

As a result of this development, major differences over 
social values and political attitudes emerged between 
generations. One significant manifestation of the appearance 
of this generational gap in the United States is the proportion 
of different age groups agreeing at different times in recent 
decades with the proposition: "Voting is the only way that 
people like me can have any say about how the government 
runs things." In 1952 overwhelming majorities of all age 
groups agreed witlr this statement, with the difference 
between the youngest age group (twenty-one to 
twenty-eight), with 79 percent approval, and the oldest age 
group (sixty-one and over), with 80 percent approval, being 
only 1 percent. By 1968, the proportion of every age group 
supporting the statement had declined substantially. Of even 
greater significance was the major gap of 25 percent which 
had opened up between the youngest age group (37 percent 
approval) and the oldest age group (62 percent approval). 33 
Whereas young and old related almost identically to political 
participation in 1952, they had very different attitudes 
toward it sixteen years later. 

The democratic surge can also be explained as the first 
manifestation in the United States of the political impact of 
the social, economic, and cultural trends towards the 
emergence of a post-industrial society. Rising levels of 
affluence and education lead to changes in political attitudes 
and political behavior. Many of the political and social values 
which are more likely to be found among the young than 
among the elderly are also more likely to be found among 
better-off, white-collar, suburban groups than among the 
poorer, working-class, blue-collar groups in central and 
industrial cities. The former groups, however, are growing in 
numbers and importance relative to the latter, and hence 

1 10 The Crisis of Democracy 

their political attitudes and behavior patterns are likely to 
play an increasingly dominant role in politics. 34 What is true 
today in North America is likely to be true tomorrow in 
Western Europe and Japan. 

The single most important status variable affecting 
political participation and attitudes is education. For several 
decades the level of education in the United States has been 
rising rapidly. In 1940, less than 40 percent of the popula- 
tion was educated beyond elementary school; in 1972, 75 per- 
cent of the population had been either to high school (40 
percent) or to college (35 percent). The more educated a per- 
son is, the, more likely he is to participate in politics, to have 
a more consistent and more ideological outlook on political 
issues, and to hold more "enlightened" or "liberal" or 
"change oriented" views on social, cultural, and foreign 
policy issues. Consequently the democratic surge could be 
simply the reflection of a more highly educated populace. 

This explanation, however, runs into difficulties when it is 
examined more closely. Verba and Nie, for instance, have 
shown that the actual rates of campaign activity which 
prevailed in the 1950s and 1960s ran far ahead of the rates 
which would have been projected simply as a result of 
changes in the educational composition of the population. 
(See Table 7.) In part, the explanation for this discrepancy 
stems from the tremendous increase in black political 
participation during these years. Before 1960, blacks 
participated less than would have been expected in terms of 
their educational levels. After 1960, they participated far 
more than would have been expected by those levels; the gap 
between projected and actual participation rates in these 
latter years being far greater for the blacks than it was for the 
whites. The difference in participation between more highly 
educated and less highly educated blacks, in turn, was much 
less than it was between more highly educated and less highly 
educated whites. Black political participation, in short, was 

The United States 111 

the product primarily not of increased individual status but 
rather of increased group consciousness. 35 That political 
participation will remain high as long as their group 
consciousness does. A decline in the saliency of school 
integration, welfare programs, law enforcement, and other 
issues of special concern to blacks will at some point 
presumably be accompanied by a decline in their group 
consciousness and hence their political participation. 

Table 7 

Mean Number of Campaign Acts: Actual and Projected 

1952 '" 1956 I960 1962 1964 1968 1970 

Actual .58 .66 .83 .69 .77 .73 .83 

Projected - .57 .59 .61 .62 .65 .66 

Source: Sidney Verba and Norman H. Nie, Participation in America: 
Political Democracy and Social Equality (New York: Harper & Row, 
1972), p. 252. 

In a similar vein, the assumption that increased attitude 
consistency can be explained primarily by higher levels of 
education also does not hold up. In fact, during the 1950s 
and 1960s major and roughly equal increases in attitude 
consistency occurred among both those who had gone to 
college and those who had not graduated from high school. 
In summarizing the data, Nie and Anderson state: 

The growth of attitude consistency within the mass 
public is clearly not the result of increases in the 
population's "ideological capacities" brought about by 
gains in educational attainment. . . . Those with the 
lowest educational attainment have experienced the 
largest increases in consistency on the core domestic 

112 The Crisis of Democracy 

issues; and little significant difference appears to be 
present between the two educational groups in 
comparison to the dramatic increases in consistency 
which both groups have experienced. 

Instead, they argue, the increase in ideological thinking is 
primarily the result of the increased salience which citizens 
perceive politics to have for their own immediate concerns: 
"The political events of the last decade, and the crisis 
atmosphere which has attended them, have caused citizens to 
perceive politics as increasingly central to their lives." 36 
Thus, the causes of increased attitude consistency, like the 
causes of higher political participation, are to be found in 
changing political relationships, rather than in changes in 
individual background characteristics. 

All this suggests that a full explanation of the democratic 
surge can be found neither in transitory events nor in secular 
social trends common to all industrial societies. The timing 
and nature of the surge in the United States also need to be 
explained by the distinctive dynamics of the American politi- 
cal process and, in particular, by the interaction between 
political ideas and institutional reality in the United States. 
The roots of the surge are to be found in the basic American 
value system and the degree of commitment which groups in 
society feel toward that value system. Unlike Japanese and 
most European societies, American society is characterized 
by a broad consensus on democratic, liberal, egalitarian 
values. For much of the time, the commitment to these 
values is neither passionate nor intense. During periods of 
rapid social change, however, these democratic and egali- 
tarian values of the American creed are reaffirmed. The in- 
tensity of belief during such creedal passion periods leads to 
the challenging of established authority and to major efforts 
to change governmental structure to accord more fully with 
those values. In this respect, the democratic surge of the 
1960s shares many characteristics with the comparable egali- 

The United States 113 

tarian and reform movements of the Jacksonian and Progres- 
sive eras. Those "surges" like the contemporary one also 
occurred during periods of realignment between party and 
governmental institutions, on the one hand, and social forces, 
on the other. 37 The slogans, goals, values, and targets of all 
three movements are strikingly similar. To the extent this 
analysis is valid, the causes of the democratic surge in the 
United States would be specific to the United States and 
limited in duration but potentially recurring at some point in 
the future. 


Predictively, the" implication of this analysis is that in due 
course the democratic surge and its resulting dual distemper 
in government will moderate. Prescriptively, the implication 
is that these developments ought to take place in order to 
avoid the deleterious consequences of the surge and to 
restore balance between vitality and governability in the 
democratic system. 

Al Smith once remarked that "the only cure for the evils 
of democracy is more democracy." Our analysis suggests that 
applying that cure at the present time could well be adding 
fuel to the flames. Instead, some of the problems of 
governance in the United States today stem from an excess of 
democracy— an "excess of democracy" in much the same 
sense in which David Donald used the term to refer to the 
consequences of the Jacksonian revolution which helped to 
precipitate the Civil War. Needed, instead, is a greater degree 
of moderation in democracy. 

In practice, this moderation has two major areas of 
application. First, democracy is only one way of constituting 
authority, and it is not necessarily a universally applicable 
one. In many situations the claims of expertise, seniority, 
experience, and special talents may override the claims of 
democracy as a way of constituting authority. During the 
surge of the 1960s, however, the democratic principle was 

114 The Crisis of Democracy 

extended to many institutions where it can, in the long run, 
only frustrate the purposes of-those institutions. A university 
where teaching appointments are subject to approval by 
students may be a more democratic university but it is not 
likely to be a better university. In similar fashion, armies in 
which the commands of officers have been subject to veto by 
the collective wisdom of their subordinates have almost in- 
variably come to disaster on the battlefield. The arenas where 
democratic procedures are appropriate are, in short, limited. 

Second, the effective operation of a democratic political 
system usually requires some measure of apathy and 
noninvolvement on the part of some individuals and groups. 
In the past, every democratic society has had a marginal 
population, of greater or lesser size, which has not actively 
participated in politics. In itself, this marginality on the part 
of some groups is inherently undemocratic, but it has also 
been one of the factors which has enabled democracy to 
function effectively. Marginal social groups, as in the case of 
the blacks, are now becoming full participants in the political 
system. Yet the danger of overloading the political system 
with demands which extend its functions and undermine its 
authority still remains. Less marginality on the part of some 
groups thus needs to be replaced by more self-restraint on the 
part of all groups. 

The Greek philosophers argued that the best practical state 
would combine several different principles of government in 
its constitution. The Constitution of 1787 was drafted with 
this insight very much in mind. Over the years, however, the 
American political system has emerged as a distinctive case of 
extraordinarily democratic institutions joined to an 
exclusively democratic value system. Democracy is more of a 
threat to itself in the United States than it is in either Europe 
or Japan where there still exist residual inheritances of 
traditional and aristocratic values. The absence of such values 
in the United States produces a lack of balance in society 
which, in turn, leads to the swing back and forth between 

The United States 115 

creedal passion and creedal passivity. Political authority is 
never strong in the United States, and it is peculiarly weak 
during a creedal passion period of intense commitment to 
democratic and egalitarian ideals. In the United States, the 
strength of democracy poses a problem for the governability 
of democracy in a way which is not the case elsewhere. 

The vulnerability of democratic government in the United 
States thus comes not primarily from external threats, 
though such threats are real, nor from internal subversion 
from the left or the right, although both possibilities could 
exist, but rather from the internal dynamics of democracy 
itself in a highly educated, mobilized, and participant society. 
"Democracy never lasts long," John Adams observed. "It 
soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a 
democracy yet that did not commit suicide." That suicide is 
more likely to be the product of overindulgence than of any 
other cause. A value which is normally good in itself is not 
necessarily optimized when it is maximized. We have come to 
recognize that there are potentially desirable limits to eco- 
nomic growth. There are also potentially desirable limits to 
the indefinite extension of political democracy. Democracy 
will have a longer life if it has a more balanced existence. 


1 . Sidney Verba and Norman H. Nie, Participation in America: 
Political Democracy and Social Equality (New York: Harper & Row, 
1972), pp. 251-52. The campaign acts measured included: urging others 
to vote for a party or candidate; contributing money; attending a 
meeting or rally; doing other work for a candidate; belonging to a 
political organization; using a campaign button or bumper sticker. 

2. See, for example, S. M. Miller and Pamela A. Roby, The Future 
of Inequality (New York: Basic Books, 1970); Christopher Jencks, 
Inequality (New York: Basic Books, 1972); Herbert J. Gans, More 
Equality (New York: Pantheon, 1973); Lee S. Rainwater, Social 
Problems: Inequality and Justice (Chicago: Aldine Press, 1974); 
Edward C. Budd, Inequality and Poverty (New York: W. W. Norton, 

116 The Crisis of Democracy 

1967); Murray Milner, The Illusion of Equality (San Francisco: 
Jossey-Bass, 1972); David Lane, The End of Equality? (Har- 
mendsworth, Middlesex, England and New York: Penguin Books, 
1971); "On Equality," Symposium, The Public Interest, Fall 1972; 
Frank Parkin, Class Inequality and Political Order (London: 
MacGibbon & Kee, 1971). 

3. See Samuel P. Huntington, The Common Defense (New York: 
Columbia University Press, 1961), pp. 33-64. 

4. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United 
States: 1973 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1973), p. 410. 

5. Edward R. Fried, et al., Setting National Priorities: The 1974 
Budget (Washington: Brookings Institution, 1973) p. 5. 

6. Huntington, Common Defense, pp. 234-48. 

7. William Watts arid Lloyd A. Free, State of the Nation: 1974 
(Washington: Potomac Associates, 1974); The Gallup Opinion Index, 
Report No. 1 12, October 1974, p. 20. 

8. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract, 1973, p. 410; 
U.S. Office of Management and Budget, The United States Budget in 
Brief-Fiscal Year 1975 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 
1974), p. 47. 

9. Daniel Bell, "The Public Household-On 'Fiscal Sociology' and 
the Liberal Society," The Public Interest, no. 37, (Fall 1974), p. 41; 
James O'Connor, The Fiscal Crisis of The State (New York: St. Martin's 
Press, 1973), p. 221. 

10. Norman H. Nie and Kristi Anderson, "Mass Belief Systems 
Revisited: Political Change and Attitude Structure," The Journal of 
Politics, 36 (August 1974), pp. 558-59. 

1 1 . William Schneider, "Public Opinion: The Beginning of 
Ideology?" Foreign Policy, no. 17 (Winter 1974-75), pp. 88 ff. 

12. Arthur H. Miller, "Political Issues and Trust in Government: 
1964-70," American Political Science Review, 68 (September 1974), 
pp.951 ff. 

13. Gabriel A. Almond and Sidney Verba, The Civic Culture 
(Boston: Little, Brown, 1965), pp. 64-68; Gallup Survey, New York 
Times, October 14, 1973, p. 45. 

14. University of Michigan, Survey Research Center, Codebook, 
1960 Survey, p. 146, and Codebook, 1968 Survey, p. 310. 

15. See Norman H. Nie, Sidney Verba, and John R. Petrocik, The 

The United States 117 

Changing American Voter (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, forth- 
coming, 1976), Chapter 15. 

16. Jack Citrin, "Comment: Political Issues and Trust in 
Government: 1964-70," American Political Science Review, 68 
(September 1974), pp. 982-84. 

17.Nie, Verba, and Petrocik, Changing American Voter, Chapter 15, 
pp. 2-10. 

18. Gallup Survey reported in New York Times, October 17, 1971, 
p. 34; N. D. Glenn, "Sources of the Shift to Political Independence," 
Social Science Quarterly, 53 (December 1972), pp. 494-519. 

19. Frederick G. Dutton, Changing Sources of Power: American 
Politics in the 1970s (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971), p. 228; Richard 
W. Boyd, "Electoral Trends in Postwar Politics," in James David 
Barber, ed., Choosing the President (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: 
Prentice-Hall, 1974), p. 185. 

20. Boyd, ibid, p. 189. 

21. Gerald M. Pomper, "From Confusion to Clarity: Issues and 
American Voters, 1956-1968," American Political Science Review, 66 
(June 1972), pp. 415 ff.; Miller, ibid., 68 (September 1974), pp. 951 
ff.; Norman H. Nie, "Mass Belief Systems Revisited," Journal of 
Politics, 36 (August 1974), pp. 540-91; Schneider, Foreign Policy, no. 
17, pp. 98 ff. 

22. Samuel H. Beer, "Government and Politics: An Imbalance," The 
Center Magazine, 7 (March-April 1974), p. 15. 

23. Daniel Yankelovich, Changing Youth Values in the '70 's: A 
Study of American Youth (New York: JDR 3rd Fund, 1974), p. 37. 

24. Walter Dean Burnham, Critical Elections and the Mainsprings of 
American Politics (New York: W. W. Norton, 1970); James L. 
Sundquist, Dynamics of the Party System (Washington: The Brookings 
Institution, 1973); Samuel Lubell, The Future of American Politics 
(New York: Harper, 1951). 

25. Quoted in Michael J. Robinson, "American Political Legitimacy 
in an Era of Electronic Journalism: Reflections on the Evening News," 
in Richard Adler, ed., Television as a Social Force: New Approaches to 
TV Criticism (New York: Praeger-Aspen, 1975), p. 123. 

26. Michael J. Robinson, "Public Affairs Television and the Growth 
of Political Malaise: The Case of The Selling of the Pentagon," 
American Political Science Review, forthcoming, June 1976. 

118 The Crisis of Democracy 

27. Robinson, "American Political Legitimacy," pp. 126-27. 

28. Louis Harris and Associates, Confidence and Concern: Citizens 
View American Government (Committee Print, U.S. Senate, Committee 
on Government Operations, Subcommittee on Intergovernmental 
Relations, 93rd Cong., 1st Sess., December 3, 1973), pp. 4243, 299. 

29. Tax Foundation, Inc., Unions and Government Employment 
(New York, 1972), pp. 29, 39-41. 

30. Huntington, Common Defense,pp. 271-75. 

31. See University of Michigan, Survey Research Center, surveys 
1958, 1964, 1966, 1968 and 1970, on black and white "Attitudes 
Toward Government: Political Cynicism," and John E. Mueller, War, 
Presidents, and Public Opinion (New York: John Wiley, 1973), pp. 

32. Yankelovich, Changing Youth Values, p. 9. 

33. Anne Foner, "Age Stratification and Age Conflict in Political 
Life," American Sociological Review, 39 (April 1974), p. 190. 

34. Samuel P. Huntington, "Postindustrial Politics: How Benign Will 
It Be?" Comparative Politics, 16 (January 1974), pp. 177-82; Louis 
Harris, The Anguish of Change (New York: W. W. Norton, 1973), pp. 

35. Verba and Nie, Participation in America, pp. 251-59. 

36. Nie and Anderson, Journal of Politics, 36 (August 1974), pp. 

37. Samuel P. Huntington, "Paradigms of American Politics: Beyond 
the One, the Two, and the Many," Political Science Quarterly, 89 
(March 1974), pp. 18-22. 



Joji Watanuki 


There is no absolute governability or ungovernability. 
Governability is always a function of tasks, both imposed 
from the outside and generated from the inside, and of 
capabilities, of both the elite and the masses. 

1. External Conditions Surrounding Japanese Democracy 

Although there seems to be no impending external threat 
of military aggression to Japan, there exist uncertainties of a 
military nature which, if they should be actualized, would 
impose enormous strains on Japanese leaders. One is the 
instability of the Korean situation and possible escalating 
confrontation between the Republic of Korea and the 
People's Democratic Republic of Korea. Another is the 
possibility of Sino-Soviet military confrontation. In both 
cases, if the conflicts should escalate enough, they would 
cause worldwide repercussions, and the United States, at 
least, would inevitably be involved in them. If, however, 
the escalation should remain below certain limits and could 
be regarded as a local problem, it is possible that particularly 
strong pressures to force Japanese decision-makers to make 


120 The Crisis of Democracy 

difficult policy decisions would be generated from both sides' 
of the conflict. The former, the Korean problem, has a 
special significance for the problem of the internal governa- 
bility of Japan. 

Apart from such critical, and hopefully, improbable cases, 
there are two external factors which beset Japan and create 
tasks for the Japanese leadership. One is the well-known 
international dependency and vulnerability of the Japanese 
economy in terms of resources needed not only for industry 
but also for feeding the Japanese people. According to 
often-cited figures, Japan's ratio of dependency on overseas 
resources is: almost 100 percent in oil; 85 percent in total 
energy supply^ 100 percent in aluminum; and 95 percent for 
iron ore (1970 level). Of Japan's total food supply, 23 per- 
cent comes from abroad, and among vital foodstuffs, 92 
percent of the wheat and 96 percent of the soybeans con- 
sumed in Japan in 1971 came from abroad. In comparison 
with the equivalent figures for the United States, these 
figures are impressive enough to show Japan's international 
dependency in the acquisition of resources. 

Japan's dependency is, however, of the same level as that 
of many West European societies. What distinguishes Japan 
from West European societies is the second external factor. 
Japan stands alone in its region with no equal partner for 
joint action, which would share common interests due to a 
similar stage of industrial development, combined with the 
same degree of commitment to principles of political 
democracy. Of course, in spite of the European Community, 
West European countries are far from achieving complete 
accord and being able to take united action to cope with 
their difficulties. And West European countries and the 
European Community as a whole always have to take into, 
consideration the moves of other regions— those of the Soviet 
bloc, the Arab countries, and all other Third World countries. 
As the most economically advanced country in Asia and 
because of the historical backgrounds of Japan and the 

Japan 121 

countries of Asia, the Japanese elite and masses are torn 
between a feeling of belonging to Asia and a feeling of 
isolation from Asia, with an orientation to the United States 
and West Europe. 1 On the other hand, the Asian countries 
are also ambivalent toward Japan. The Japanese, including 
those in other Asian countries, are expected to perform a 
positive role because they are Asians; at the same time they 
are often severely criticized for certain behavior which would 
be permitted for Europeans or Americans. This delicate 
position of Japan in the region can be made to serve as an 
asset linking the other Asian countries with advanced 
economies and those advanced economies with developing 
economies in the region. On the other hand, it could become 
a liability which could confuse Japan's policy choices and 
aggravate the relationship between developing countries and 
economically advanced countries. 

2. Domestic Conditions and Capabilities 
of Japanese Democracy After World War II 

(a) Consolidation of postwar democracy. In discussing the 
governability of democracy in Japan, the place to start is 
with the reforms after World War II and the 1947 Con- 
stitution of Japan, which is the key political institution of 
postwar Japanese democracy. It has been argued that the 
Japanese Constitution of 1947 was prepared under the U.S. 
occupation. The draft was written by the staff of SCAP 
(Supreme Commander of Allied Powers) and General Douglas 
MacArthur, and handed to the Japanese government with 
strong pressure in early 1947. 

However, in spite of apparent record of such imposition or 
implantation by the Allied— and actually American- 
occupation forces, and although there has been a tenacious 
movement by rightists both outside and inside the Liberal 
Democratic party to abolish this "given Constitution'" 
and to make an "autonomous" constitution, the 1947 

122 The Crisis of Democracy 

Constitution has been in operation for thirty years and will 
be kept intact for the forseeable future, including its unique 
Article 9 which forbids Japan to wage war as a nation and to 
maintain armed forces. It is a miracle of modern history and 
is a key to understanding and predicting Japanese society and 

The miracle occurred for three good reasons. 2 In the first 
place, the draft Constitution prepared by SCAP was not 
made in a void. It had many ideas in common with a draft 
constitution prepared by the Japanese liberals at that time. 
Besides the Constitution itself, many postwar reforms 
performed under the American occupation were congruent 
with (or some steps in advance of) the proposals made by the 
liberals and even by the enlightened bureaucrats either then 
or even in prewar days. Thus, many reforms made during the 
U.S. occupation helped to release and encourage "reform 
potentials" which had already accumulated in Japan during 
World War II. Second, a positive role was played by the 
opposition— especially that of the Japan Socialist party in the 
period of 1952-1955, just after the end of occupation in 
1952. The Conservatives, at that time consisting of the Japan 
Liberal party and the Japan Democratic party, wanted to 
revise the "excessive" reforms made under the occupation 
and campaigned for rewriting the whole Constitution. The 
key parts of the Constitution which the Conservatives wanted 
in common to rewrite were those on the status of the 
Emperor, Article 9, and those concerning the family system. 
Extreme conservatives wanted more general deliberalization 
concerning the rights of labor unions, freedom of speech and 
association, and so on. If their attempts had been successful, 
what consequences would have followed for Japanese society 
and politics? Since this is just a matter of sheer conjecture, it 
is open to various arguments. My argument, however, is this: 
The consequence would have been less stability in Japanese 
politics and the accumulation of more frustration and 
alienation among more-educated people and also among 

Japan 123 

younger people in Japanese society. A Japan with recognized 
armed forces but with more domestic political confrontation 
and more accumulation of frustration among the populace, 
and possibly with repeated attempts at constitutional revision 
in both radical and reactionary directions, would have been 
possible. As it was, the Socialists, who at that time were 
divided between the right-wing Socialists and the left-wing 
Socialists but who both agreed to preserve the 1947 
Constitution, succeeded in winning one-third of both Houses 
of the Diet in elections in the early 1950s and blocked the 
Conservatives' attempt to revise the Constitution, which 
required the approval of two-thirds of the Diet. The legacy of 
the Constitutional dispute in this period still remains in the 
usual way of thinking of the 1947 Constitution as one 
package, that is, thinking based on an either-or way so that 
no part of the Constitution can be revised without rewriting 
the whole. Third, the mainstream of the Conservatives— the 
Liberal Democratic party— is presently indifferent about this 
matter and does not want to take the trouble to confront the 
Socialists and the Komei party. Behind the Conservative 
attitude not to take the trouble to alter the 1947 Constitu- 
tion is another factor which has contributed to the consolida- 
tion of that Constitution. In the process of economic growth 
in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, with a number 
of concomitant social changes, the 1947 Constitution and 
most of the postwar reforms became necessary to the 
operation of the Japanese economy and society. The issues 
raised by the Conservatives, especially by the rightist wing of 
them, against the 1947 Constitution became obsolete. For 
example, the 1947 Constitution and the reform of the family 
code assured the independence of family members. Younger 
people, who were supposed to be under the control of the 
familyhead before the reforms, were given legal freedom 
from the family by the postwar reforms and actually received 
economic freedom because of the labor shortage and rise of 
wages. From the viewpoint of industry, also, voluntary 

124 The Crisis of Democracy 

mobility of younger people irrespective of the assent of the 
familyhead was welcome. To the expanding, more-educated 
population, which has contributed to the labor force with 
higher quality, the idea and stipulation of the status of the 
Emperor as a symbol of the state in the 1947 Constitution 
has been more acceptable than either the idea of the Emperor 
as God in prewar days or the policy of the Conservatives, that 
the Emperor should have more substantial power. Labor 
unions recognized and protected by the 1947 Constitution, 
with their peculiarly Japanese form of "enterprise unions," 
were found to be no obstacle to technological innovation and 
contributed to the maintenance of commitment of the 
workers to the company. 

Thus, the mainstream of the Liberal Democratic party and 
the mainstream of Japanese economic circles have no serious 
intention of revising the 1947 Constitution now or in the 
near future. According to opinion polls, the majority of the 
public also supports the 1947 Constitution. In addition, the 
Socialists and the Komei party are firmly committed to it. 
The Japan Communist party has also declared its 
commitment to defend the present Constitution, at least in 
the near future, although at the same time it does not hide its 
view that at some future time the Constitution should be 
rewritten in more socialistic style, a point which the Komei 
party has been fiercely attacking. 

Thus, in comparison with the German Weimar Republic of 
1919-33 Japanese postwar democracy has a far firmer basis. 
A doubt remains about whether or not the Japanese people 
have accepted the postwar democratic system primarily 
because of Japan's economic prosperity in the postwar 
period. However, even if this is so, the prewar system offers 
no competing attraction, especially to the younger genera- 
tion. There is little possibility of a powerful revival of prewar 
Japanese militarism or political traditionalism in the future. 
Rather, the problem is how, within the 1947 Constitution, 
Japan can handle the status of Japanese Self Defense Forces, 

Japan 125 

which have been regarded by the Socialist and the Commu- 
nist parties as unconstitutional on one hand, and on the 
other, have accumulated capability and de facto legitimacy 
during their existence and development over twenty years 
under the LDP government. 

(b) The capability of the Liberal Democratic party. The 
Japanese Conservatives, particularly the Liberal Democratic 
party since its formation in 1955, have ruled Japan through- 
out the postwar period, except for the short and unsuccessful 
coalition of the Socialist and Democratic parties in 1947-48. 
The capability of the LDP is open to partisan disputes. LDP 
people and ardent -supporters of the LDP can say that under 
the rule of the LDP's majority for twenty years, Japan's 
economic growth and its peaceful existence with other 
nations are the proofs of the LDP's high capability. The 
award of the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize to ex-Prime Minister 
Eisaku Sato seems to back up such an argument. But the 
opposition parties have naturally been critical of the LDP's 
capability and actually expressed astonishment and criticism 
of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Sato. Apart from 
such partisan disputes, two observations can be made. First, 
the LDP's rule has carried with it both merits and demerits— 
in other words, functions and dysfunctions. Second, the 
social and cultural bases which have hitherto supported the 
functional side of the LDP have been declining. Thus, the 
changing tides of Japanese society seem to be less congruent 
with, or more beyond the adaptability of the LDP than 

As for the LDP's merits, I can cite three points. First, the 
close coordination between the LDP, the higher elite corps of 
the bureaucracy, and the economic elite (which have been 
called "Japan Incorporated" since Time magazine's story of 
May 10, 1971, invented the term), certainly contributed to 
Japan's economic growth and will also function positively in 
future times of economic crisis through skillful "consensus 
economy." Certainly the LDP's capability for policy forma- 

126 The Crisis of Democracy 

tion is high in the sense that it is fused with the bureaucratic 
elite. This group consists of ex-high-level bureaucrats, who 
became either LDP parliamentary members or top executives 
of public and private corporations after their relatively early 
retirement (around the ages of fifty to fifty five); of active 
senior bureaucrats; and of successive generations of successful 
candidates in the higher civil service examination. Ex-high- 
level bureaucrats as LDP politicians contribute their know- 
ledge and experiences accumulated during their bureaucratic 
careers to the formation of policies by the party. They can 
also maintain communication with their ex-colleagues in 
public and -private corporations and, moreover, may utilize 
the cooperation and assistance of their successors on active 
duty in the bureaucracy. 

Second, the LDP has build up skillful vote-getting ma- 
chines in its koenkai (associations supporting individual 
politicians), through which various demands— personal, 
regional, and occupational— of the vast populace have been 
absorbed and satisfied. All LDP Diet members maintain their 
koenkai, 3 which often comprise tens of thousands of 
"members" who rarely pay membership dues. Almost all the 
expenses to maintain such koenkai are paid by the LDP 
politicians themselves, who therefore always badly need 
money. LDP politicians are very responsive to their koenkai 
clients, especially to the key persons in them, who are often 
the local influential persons in agricultural associations or 
small- and medium-sized trade associations. Therefore, in 
spite of its close coordination with big businesses and its 
financial dependency on them, the LDP has not ignored the 
interests of local leaders in agriculture, fisheries, small- and 
medium-sized commerce, and manufacturing. The LDP at the 
grass roots level has been loosely structured and has consisted 
of federations of hundreds of small parties. Therefore, it has 
been able to absorb a variety of interests and demands. As is 
well known, however, mainly because of the distribution of 
money, LDP politicians are "aggregated" into several 

Japan 127 

factions, and eventually, the formation of LDP policy is 
made in close contact with the bureaucracy and big business- 
es. Here, in a sense, there is a beautiful pattern of wide inter- 
est articulation through individual LDP members and their 
koenkai, with interest aggregation through factions, and 
eventual agreement by the triumvirate of big business, 
bureaucracy, and the LDP. 

Third, although the LDP has been self-identified as a 
conservative party and many members of it have expressed 
nostalgia for a number of aspects of the prewar system from 
time to time, and although a close tie with the United States 
has been the LDP's official line on foreign policy, still LDP 
Diet members have enjoyed a wide range of freedom to 
express divergent policy views and even behavior concerning 
both domestic and foreign policies. In the sphere of foreign 
policy, members of the Asian and African Problem Study 
Group had visited the People's Republic of China a number 
of times before Tanaka's visit to China, and also have been 
keeping in contact with the People's Democratic Republic of 
Korea. However, the LDP still has strong Taiwan supporters 
and also a Korean lobby, composed of those who keep close 
ties with the Republic of Korea. In the sphere of domestic 
policy, a fairly wide divergence of opinions exists among LDP 
politicians. This ideological looseness and vagueness of the 
LDP is due to the independence of LDP politicians in 
vote-getting and to the nonideological formation of factions 
within the LDP, and these characteristics have, in their turn, 
contributed to neutralizing the party image against the attack 
from the opposition parties that the LDP is a reactionary 
party. These characteristics have, moreover, given the LDP 
wider channels of contact and assets to be utilized in case of 
policy change. 

As has been pointed out, all three of these "merits," on 
the other hand, carry demerits and involve dysfunctions. On 
the first, close contact and skillful coordination between the 
groups in the triumvirate has meant their disproportional 

128 The Crisis of Democracy 

predominance in policy formation. Powers to countervail and 
check that triumvirate have been disporportionally weak. As 
for the second mechanism, the koenkai which have made the 
LDP _ capable of absorbing various interests and demands, 
since the supporting groups of LDP are not distributed 
equally in terms of region, occupation, and generation, 
unavoidably some interests are systematically respected and 
others are ignored. And, continuation of LDP rule for nearly 
twenty years has generated a sense of alienation from power 
and a feeling of ill-treatment in certain sectors of society. To 
supporters of the opposition parties, not only LDP rule, but 
also the whole "period of Japanese history under LDP rule, is 
subject to criticism. It has been their rule, and their period, 
not ours, from this perspective. This kind of feeling of 
alienation was clearly expressed when ex-Prime Minister 
Eisaku Sato was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Third, 
concerning the looseness of ideological control within the 
LDP, there is the widely held fear of unpredictability of LDP 
behavior. Some policies are formed on the basis of factional 
fights or compromise within the LDP, and many others are 
made upon consultation with, or according to the advice of, 
bureaucratic and business circles. Concerning the former 
policies, especially from the viewpoints of opposition par- 
ties, the LDP is a party which can suddenly propose ultra- 
conservative, even rightist proposals. Partly due to the 
result of these features of LDP rule, and partly due to the 
nature of the opposition parties— especially the Japan Social- 
ist party which has been tightly committed to Marxist 
doctrine— a lack of trust between governing party and 
opposition parties has been conspicuous. And also, those 
intellectuals supporting the opposition parties are more 
numerous and vocal in their criticisms of the LDP than 
expected, given the stability and achievements of LDP rule. 
Another source of vulnerability of the LDP is an ethical 
one concerning its way of procuring and spending political 
funds. All LDP politicians have to constantly procure and 

Japan 129 

spend money in order to maintain their own koenkai. The 
minimum necessary expenditure of LDP Diet Members is said 
to be 3 million yen (10,000 U.S. dollars) per month in an 
off-election period. They raise part of this money themselves, 
and part comes from their faction leaders. Faction leaders 
have to take care of the funds of their followers. And it has 
been a well-known fact that the main part of these political 
funds is given by business corporations. The points are: Are 
huge sums of political donations by business corporations 
really pure and voluntary contributions, or is this implicit 
bribery? And is it fair political competition that the LDP and 
LDP factions combined are spending political funds five 
times larger than the total political funds spent by all four 
opposition parties together according to an official report 
released by the government? 4 Moreover, it is widely believed 
that the actual total of political spending by the LDP is more 
than this official record. 

It is a well-known fact that the LDP's share of the votes in 
national elections has been gradually declining. Although in 
the case of the House of Representatives the LDP still 
maintained a 46.8 percent share of the votes in the 1972 
general election, the LDP share fell below 40 percent (39.5 
percent) in the Prefectural Constituency of the election of 
the House of Councillors in 1974. Partly due to the 
overrepresentation of the rural districts in the Diet and partly 
due to the split of the opposition parties, the LDP still 
succeeds in getting a majority of the seats in the Houses (27 1 
out of 49 1 in the House of Representatives, and 1 26 out of 
252 in the House of Councillors). The LDP's majority is slim 
in the House of Councillors, however, and the LDP lacks 
sufficient majority legitimacy even in the House of Repre- 
sentatives due to rural overrepresentation and disproportional 
spending of political funds. 

(c) Quality of the Japanese bureaucracy. Although it 
depends on the definition of governability, in any under- 
standing of governability as a synthetic capability relating the 

130 The Crisis of Democracy 

governing and the governed, the quality of bureaucracy, as 
the governing framework or as an intermediary between the 
governing and the governed or^s an autonomous third force, 
has special significance. In this respect, the Japanese bureau- 
cracy seems to deserve some attention. Historically, the 
Japanese bureaucracy was formed after the Prussian model, 
legacies of which remain even today in formalistic legalism 
and alleged neutralism which does not, however, prevent the 
high bureaucrats from committing themselves to partisan 
stands of the governing party, as representing the interest of 
the state. Many high-level bureaucrats, after retirement, have 
joined the LDP and, after their successful election, have 
become key figures in the governing party. The bureaucrats, 
on duty are, however, fairly autonomous under the control 
of administrative vice-ministers and the elite bureaucratic 
corps has a high degree of esprit de corps, similar to the 
British Civil Service. During the recent period of economic 
growth, mainly in the Ministries of Financed and of 
International Trade and Industry, and in the Economic 
Planning Agency, technocrats, consisting primarily of eco- 
nomic specialists, have been gaining power, and in this 
predominance of technocrats, Japanese bureaucracy can be 
compared with the French bureaucracy. 

Thus, the capability of Japanese bureaucracy can be 
evaluated as rather high. The members of the elite bureau- 
cratic corps, consisting of those who passed the higher civil 
service examination— whose number is still limited to 400 or 
so annually in this age of expansion of higher education with 
■1.5 million university students, are really elite both in terms 
of their initial caliber and the opportunities for training and 
accumulation of administrative experience given to them 
during their careers. This elite bureaucratic corps of about 
1 0,000 is still prepared today to work twenty-four hours per 
day and seven days a week if necessary, because of its 
privileged position of good care and faster promotion and the 
prevailing ethos of diligence and self-sacrifice in the elite 

Japan 131 

There are, however, dysfunctions and vulnerability in the 
Japanese bureaucracy. The top level of the Japanese bureau- 
cratic elite corps and alumni from this group have been too 
fused with the LDP. Furthermore, with the expansion of 
higher education, a system designed to recruit only 400 or so 
per year to the elite bureaucratic corps cannot maintain itself 
forever. Actually, many university graduates are taking 
examinations for middle civil service positions which have 
been intended for high school or junior college graduates. 
The point is that in such a situation it will become difficult 
to give special favor to those w ho passed higher civil service 
examinations and to discriminate against other members of 
the bureaucracy who are now also university graduates. In 
the near future the notion and practice of the elite 
bureaucratic corps will be forced to give way to more 
egalitarian, less privileged forms. Local governments have 
been doing this already. For instance, the Tokyo metropol- 
itan government has been recruiting several hundred universi- 
ty graduates on an equal basis. In addition it has been an 
established practice for Japanese ministries to recruit their 
own personnel, both elite and non-elite, as the personnel of 
their own ministries only. The aim has been to build up the 
ministry's own bureaucracy of specialists on matters over 
which that ministry presides and to build up strong solidarity 
in the elite bureaucratic corps within a particular ministry. 
This practice has brought with it the pattern of ministerial 
bureaucrats acting to promote the interests of their clienteles 
and ardently promoting interests and demands within their 
jurisdictions even in dispute with the governing party, thus 
serving as guardians of interests which might be neglected by 
the governing party. But, the cost paid for this is bureaucratic 
sectionalism and there is no bureau to take care of overall 
policy. To be sure there are the Prime Minister's office and 
the Cabinet Secretariat, which are supposed to perform this 
function, but these bureaucrats come from various ministries, 
serve for a couple of years, and go back to their home 

132 The Crisis of Democracy 

ministries; therefore, they are likely to remain committed to 
the particular interests of their home ministries. 

(d) The economy. As is well known, Japanese economic 
growth during the two decades before the oil crisis of Octo- 
ber 1973 was amazing, continuously maintaining an annual 
growth rate over 10%. GNP and also per capita income dou- 
bled every five years. Even considering the rise of commodity 
prices, real wages still nearly doubled between 1960 and 
1972. 6 Japan's GNP is larger than that of any West European 
country and its per capita income or wage is roughly equal 
with, or even slightly more than, that of Britain or France, 
according to the statistics. With this growth of GNP and in- 
crease of per capita income and wages, government revenue 
and spending have expanded enormously. From 1965 to 
1973, for instance, the government budget grew from 3,658 
billion yen to 14, 284 billion yen, that is, over three times. 7 
In other words, so far, with the growth of the Japanese econ- 
omy, the government has acquired tremendous amounts of 
goods and services which it can dispose, and this has made it 
possible for the Japanese government to distribute goods and 
services in response to the increased demands of the popu- 
lace. Under these circumstances, government has been able to 
avoid serious priority problems. 

Again, as is well known, since the successive revaluation of 
the yen, the oil crisis and the subsequent jump of oil prices, 
the picture has been changing rapidly. The growth rate for 
fiscal year 1973 (April 1973 to March 1974) dropped sharply 
to 5.4 percent, and that for the 1974 fiscal year was 
eventually found to be minus (—1.8 percent). According to 
the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), the 
expected growth rate for 1975 is 2 percent. Although 
somewhat slowed, the rise of consumer prices as of March 
1975 in comparison with the previous year was still 13 
percent. The government target is to lower the rise of 
consumer prices to a single digit by the end of 1975. In this 
economic situation, the national government could still 
increase its budget to 17,180 billion yen in the 1974 fiscal 

Japan 133 

year and 21,280 billion yen in fiscal year 1975, without 
creating serious deficits and increasing the rate of inflation, 
but local governments now face serious deficits in their 
budgets. It is- expected that the national government too will 
face a tighter financial situation and priority problems in 
budget-making for next fiscal year, beginning in April 1976. 

As for the longer economic perspective, the government 
defines the period from 1974 to 1976 as an adjustment 
period from rapid economic growth to stable economic 
growth or a "less accelerated" economy, as it is called. After 
1976, the MITI is expecting, an annual economic growth rate 
of about 7 percent. If so, this moderate growth can bring 
with it some leeway for priority problems but that leeway 
will be far more restricted in comparison with previous years 
of more than 10 percent growth of the economy. 

(e)Mass media. Development of mass media in Japan is 
quite conspicuous. The total number of copies of newspapers 
issued daily is 56 million copies, which is second only to that 
of the United States (63 million copies). The estimated 
number of television sets currently in use is 48 million, and 
there are five nationwide television networks— one is the 
publicly operated NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) 
and the other four are privately owned (NTV, TBS, Fuji, and 
NET). 8 Besides the press and TV, the plethora of magazines 
is a characteristic of the Japanese mass media scene. In 
particular, the variety of weekly magazines with huge 
circulations (about fifty different weekly magazines are 
selling eight million copies per month) is striking. 

What is the relevance of the Japanese mass media to the 
governability of Japanese democracy? Under the postwar 
democracy, there has been no governmental censorship 
except during the occupation period, and all the major 
newspapers and TV networks have been avowed guardians of 
democracy. Their quality is not bad, especially the five major 
newspapers with nationwide circulation {Asahi, Mainichi, 
Yomiuri, Sankei, and Nihon Keizai), which are proud of 

1 34 The Crisis of Democracy 

being quality newspapers with circulations of several million 
and which compete with each other in terms of their 

Thus we can say that the Japanese mass media as a whole 
are a positive factor in the maintenance and operation of 
Japanese democracy. However, the Japanese mass media have 
several characteristics peculiar to Japan, which function as a 
kind of constraint, within which Japanese democracy has to 
operate and which might make Japanese democracy 
vulnerable under possible changed conditions. 

First, as has often been pointed out, Japanese newspapers 
are highly standardized, in the sense that they tend to refrain 
from presenting partisan opinion, and allocate their space in a 
quite similar way to coverage of 'everything from on-the- 
street human interest stories to highbrow academic articles. 

Second, alongside their nonpartisanship, another 
established characteristic of Japanese newspapers is what is 
called their "opposition spirit," which means critical of the 
government, but within the limits of nonpartisanship. The 
result is that nonpartisan intellectual radicalism is treated 
rather favorably in the newspapers and a tone of moral 
sensationalism colors the reports and articles in newspapers. 

In the case of broadcasting, NHK clings more strictly to 
the principle of nonpartisanship and to a less critical spirit 
than the newspapers. Other TV networks are more and more 
tied to particular major newspapers and show similar 
characteristics to these newspapers in their reporting. 
However, sensationalism is more obvious in several weekly 
magazines, such as Shukan-Post, Shukan-Gendai and, al- 
though in a rather conservative tone, Shukan-Shincho , each 
of which sells over 500,000 copies every week. 

Those characteristics of Japanese mass media can have 
both positive and negative functions for the governability of 
Japanese democracy. The newspapers' and NHK's nonparti- 
sanship is good in preventing manipulation by the powerful 
mass media. Sensationalism has helped to arouse the atten- 

Japan 135 

tion of the public to politics from issue to issue as they arise. 
Negative functions, however, also follow from these charac- 
teristics. Nonpartisanship of the mass media can bring with it 
the loss of the function of stimulating political discussion, 
and the critical spirit and moral sensationalism can obstruct 
necessary mobilization of support by the government and 
encourage political distrust of the government. 

(f) Education. Expansion of higher education in Japan has 
been amazing during the past decade. The percentage of 
those enrolling in universities and colleges among the eligible 
age group has doubled during the decade and reached 30 
percent in 1974. Furthermore, it is expected that his trend 
will continue and that enrollment will reach 40 percent by 
1980. From an educational standpoint, the Japanese uni- 
versity system has a number of problems to be solved, 9 but 
only the political relevance of this expansion of higher 
education will be considered here. 

So far, university expansion has had relatively little direct 
impact on politics. Of course, there has been sporadic campus 
unrest, emergence of a variety of radical groups recruited 
from university students, and participation of a number of 
students in antipollution movements. Also, the Japan Com- 
munist Party has maintained its influence on student move- 
ments through its Democaratic Youth League, and the 
League's members are quite active in assisting JCP's election 
campaigns. However, a majority of the 1 .5 million Japanese 
university students and the couple millions of recent grad- 
uates have been relatively calm politically. One of the rea- 
sons for this calm has been the favorable situation of the 
job market for rapidly expanding numbers of university 
graduates. The decade has witnessed an enormous expansion 
of tertiary industries and of professional, technical, and 
clerical jobs, which have absorbed a couple million university 
graduates. The shortage of young blue-collar workers resulted 
in the improvement of the wages of not only young 
blue-collar workers but also of young white-collar workers. In 

136 The Crisis of Democracy 

spite of an ongoing change of values in the younger 
generation, organizational disciplines regulating the new 
recruits in business or bureaucracy have persisted and have 
been successful in making them adapt to organizational 
norms. Moreover, so far the expansion of higher education 
has coincided with the expansion of local governmental 
activities and personnel. The percentage of university gradu- 
ates among newly recruited civil servants on the local 
government level has increased rapidly, which has certainly 
contributed to upgrading the quality of the local civil 

Another aspect of higher education has been the increase 
of social science specialists in the universities, some of whom 
have begun to keep closer contact with governmental 
policy-making than previous Japanese university professors. 
In the fields of econometrics, social engineering, and regional 
planning a number of specialists are giving more advice and 
keeping close contact with the government. On the other 
hand, expansion of higher education has also brought with it 
an increasing number of intellectual oppositionists. In Japan's 
case, however, intellectual opposition has a long tradition. 
What is new is the emergence of policy-oriented fields of 
social science and policy-oriented intellectuals prepared to 
give advice to government. 

The crucial question, however, is whether the Japanese 
economy can continue to offer suitable jobs to university 
graduates who constitute over 30 percent or even 40 percent 
of the corresponding age group. And another crucial question 
is the cost and quality of higher education. Government has 
been increasing the appropriation of public funds to assist 
private universities. In the expected tight budgetary situation, 
whether government can and should expand such assistance is 

(g) Labor unions. In postwar Japanese democracy, labor 
unions have established their recognized position firmly. 

Japan 137 

Also, Japanese labor unions with their form of "enterprise 
union"— meaning that unions have been organized 
corresponding to the scope of each company, embracing all 
employees in that company— have had no essential objection 
to the introduction of technological innovations so long as 
the company has guaranteed favorable treatment and offered 
retraining to those who were transferred to new jobs in the 
company, unlike British unions based on a particular job or 
craft. In spite of their basic form of "enterprise union," 
Japanese labor unions have succeeded in building up 
federations of unions within the same kind of industries, and 
eventually nationaL federations of labor unions. (Sohyo and 
Domei are two big national federations of labor unions which 
have been exercising fairly strong influence through their 
jointly scheduled plan of wage-raise demands [the so-called 
"spring struggle"] and electoral campaigning in support of 
the opposition parties. Sohyo supports the Socialists and 
Domei supports the Democratic Socialists.) 

Present-day democracy cannot exist without the recog- 
nition of, and support from, labor unions. Actually, the 
Japanese labor unions, especially the two big national 
federations, have been the avowed guardians of postwar 
democracy, although in different senses and directions. Sohyo 
has been in close cooperation with the Socialists, not com- 
pletely unfavorable to the Communists, and definitely against 
the LDP. Domei has been supporting more moderate Demo- 
cratic Socialists. While definitely against the Communists, it 
has been prepared to cooperate with the LDP and LDP 
government upon certain conditions. 

The roles to be played by labor unions in a democracy, 
however, involve a number of delicate situations. In Japan's 
case, even under the LDP government which has had no labor 
union to support it, government cannot ignore labor unions 
in labor administration and has had representatives of Soh- 
yo and Domei on a number of Deliberation Councils on 

138 The Crisis of Democracy 

labor administration and also on Labor Relations 
Committees. But essentially, the LDP has been on the side of 
business and more concerned with the interests of its 
supporters— farmers, small and medium-size manufacturers, 
.and all other miscellaneous people organized into their own 
koenkai. One might argue that it has been rather a good 
balance since organized labor has had powerful say even if 
it has not been respected by the LDP. The opposite argu- 
ment is that organized labor should have been respected 
more in order to counterbalance the influence of big business 
on LDP governments. Some people argue that organized 
labor has been representing not only the interests of its mem- 
bers buf also all those who have been unfavorably treated 
under LDP governments. The third view, which has been 
emerging recently, does not trust either LDP governments or 
labor unions. It insists that since labor unions represent the 
interests of only a fraction of the total population (only 
about 30 percent of the employed are organized into labor 
unions) and since the two national federations represent an 
even smaller fraction (Sohyo, with its 4 million membership, 
organizes 10 percent; and Domei, with its 2.5 million mem- 
bership, 7 percent of the total employed), the interests of 
ordinary citizens should be respected more, that is, emerging 
consumers' movements and various citizens' movements 
should be respected more than, or at least alongside, organ- 
ized labor in order to increase the responsiveness and equity 
of Japanese democracy. 




Since values determine the way people think and act, it is 
important to see how changing values, which are most 
conspicuously observable in the younger generation and are 
expected to accumulate in years to come, will affect the 

Japan 139 

governability of Japanese democracy. 

1 . Political Beliefs 

(a) The 1947 Constitution as a package as the key political 
belief. All the survey data collected in recent years reinforce 
the point that there is no sign of weakening of the support 
for the 1947 Constitution as a whole. On the contrary, 
younger and more-educated people tend to support more 
strongly the 1947 Constitution as a whole, including its 
Article 9 forbidding Japan to wage a war and to have armed 
forces for that purpose. 10 Therefore, the 1947 Constitution 
has become a given. 

One argument against the Constitution is that the Japanese 
"warlike" national character will not change so easily; 
therefore, if international situations slightly change, the 
Japanese will easily change their minds and discard the 1947 
Constitution, especially its Article 9. But this kind of 
argument, which is often found among overseas Chinese 
scholars, is highly improbable. Another argument stresses 
that if some grave change should occur in international 
relations, in other words if some real threat of aggression to 
Japan by some foreign powers should occur, the Japanese 
"mood" would change rapidly to support rearmament and 
consequently a revision of the 1947 Constitution. The 
possibility certainly exists, but this argument seems to be 
based on assumptions of low probability. 

At the same time, because of the recent activities of the 
Japanese Red Army abroad, there are continued possibilities 
that minority radicals will resort to individual or small group 
terrorism both abroad and at home. These incidents are not 
the expression of general bellicosity of the Japanese people, 
but the expression of New Left minority radicals, also widely 
found in North America and West European countries, and of 
Japanese ignorance of the Arabs and the lack of a connection 
between Japanese radicalism and Jewish intellectuals, such as 
is found in North America or Western Europe. 

140 The Crisis of Democracy 

It is undeniable that the radical minorities on the far left 
will continue to commit terrorism abroad in supporting the 
Arabs (or, precisely, being utilized by the Arabs) and within 
Japan by bombing the offices of such companies as the 
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Company or the Mitsui Bussan 
Company. The ultrarightists, too, will be able to recruit a 
small number of new members constantly from the youth 
both in and outside universities, and they might succeed in 
political terrorism in the future too, such as the assassination 
of the Socialists' Chairman Inejiro Asanuma, which occurred 
in 1960. As a whole, however, the Japanese younger 
generations have the political beliefs congruent with, and 
definitely supporting, the 1947 Constitution. 

(b) Emergence of "participation" and "protest" mo- 
tivations and movements. An ongoing change of political 
beliefs is occurring, which is not incompatible with the 
beliefs in the 1947 Constitution, but is not identical with it, 
and which will exercise a far-reaching influence on the future 
of Japanese democracy. It is a change from submissiveness to 
authority to active protest and demands for participation, 
that is, from "subject" political culture to "participatory" 
political culture. There are excellent data which show this 
change. (Table 1 ). 

Two comments are specially warranted on this table. When 
the first survey was conducted in 1953, a majority of the 
Japanese over twenty years old were prepared to leave things 
to competent politicians, if such were available. In other 
words, at that time, the majority of the masses were prepared 
to obey a competent politician; therefore, the governability 
problem was simply a problem of the politicians— that is, 
whether such competent politicians were available or not. 
During the period of economic growth, people have become 
more self-assertive and have come to dislike leaving things 
even to competent politicians. Then, the governability 
problem becomes not only, the problem of the competence of 
the governing, but the problem of both the governing and the 

Japan 141 

Table 1 

Responses to the question: "In order to improve the 
Japanese nation, do you agree or disagree to the statement 
that, if a competent politician is available, it is better to 
leave things to him instead of discussing them among 
ordinary citizens?" 


Case by 






- 9 

.._ 38 



























Source: Institute of Mathematical Statistics, Ministry of Education, A 
Study of the Japanese National Character-The Fifth Nation-wide 
Survey- 1973. 


Other transnational data show the existence of the 
phenomena of increasing demands for participation in Japan 
similar to those in West European and North American 
countries. Respondents in a poll were asked to choose two 
most important values from "law and order," "encourage- 
ment of more participation in vital political decisions," 
"restraint of the rise of prices," and "freedom of speech," 
values which were used in Professor Ronald Inglehart's six 
West European surveys. 11 Japanese respondents reacted in 
the following way. According to the marginal distribution, 
"price restraint" was the first choice (70.4 percent), and the 
others followed with "law and order" (45.3 percent), "par- 
ticipation" (35.1 percent), and "freedom of speech" (13.8 
percent). The age and educational differences, however, 

142 The Crisis of Democracy 

were conspicuous. Among younger people in their twenties 
and those with university education, the choice of "partici- 
pation" surpassed that of "law and order" and gained the 
second ranking after "price restraint." In combinations of 
two values, the combination of "participation and free 
speech," which Professor Inglehart assumed to be the pure 
type of "postindustrial value," was less popular in Japan than 
in West European countries. Japanese responses, however, 
were more concentrated in the intermediary type of "prices 
and participation." (Tables 2 and 3.) And again, the younger 
and the more-educated clearly show their preference for the 
value of participation. (Among those in their twenties, about 
15 percent prefer the combination of "participation and free 
speech," and, if coupled with "participation and prices," 
they are the top choice.) 

The heightening of participatory motivation, however, is 
often related to increasing distrust of institutionalized 
channels of participation— that is, elections and political 
parties. Thus, the other side of the coin is the decline of 
political parties and rise of various voluntary citizens' and 
residents' movements which dislike and refuse to follow the 
leadership of any political party and prefer protests instead 
of institutionalized participation. Respondents in a recent 
nationwide survey 12 were asked the question "which would 
you prefer about the future of Japanese party politics— one, 
to back up the political party which can be relied on; two, to 
promote citizens' or residents' movements as they become 
necessary; three, I have nothing to do with political parties or 
politics at all?" The responses divided as follows: 57.0 
percent chose the first response, 17.3 percent the second, and 
5.3 percent the third. The distribution is not so bad from the 
viewpoint of political parties. Again, however, the younger 
(among those in their twenties, 22.4 percent prefer citizens' 
movements to parties and 6.5 percent are totally against 
politics) and the more-educated (23.1 percent of the univer- 
sity graduates prefer citizens' movements rather than political 



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parties) have less trust in institutional channels of partici- 
pation and are turning more to uninstitutional, protest-orien- 
ted movements. 

Protest-oriented movements Jiave been spreading beyond 
the younger and more-educated people and beyond urban 
and industrial areas to older, less-educated people and to 
local, agricultural, and fishery areas. The Mutsu, the first 
Japanese nuclear-powered test ship, drifted for fifty-four 
days because of fierce protest actions of the fishermen of the 
bay in which the base for that ship was located. There were 
complicated reasons for this protest. Fear of nuclear 
accidents and consequent possible contamination was 
certainly one of the reasons. However, the antipathy of the 
fishermen, living in the "periphery" and ill-treated by the 
"center" for a long time, against the government was 
reported to be another reason. The point of the drifting 
incident of the Mutsu was that, whatever the reasons for the 
protest were, even the fishermen in remote local areas were 
prepared to organize protest movements when they felt the 
government was doing them an injustice. Also, farmers are no 
longer silent and obedient to the government whenever they 
feel they are treated unjustly. 

If "governability" involves the capacity of the government 
to impose policies or plans unilaterally which will affect the 
living of the citizens concerned, certainly such governability 
in Japan has decreased. The Japanese government, however, 
because of its long tradition of Obrigkeit-staat, often violates 
the usual standard of democracy in its behavior vis-a-vis 
citizens. In order to talk about the governability of 
democracy in the Japanese case, sometimes democracy 
should still be emphasized at the cost of governability. 
Moreover, the cost can be partly covered by learning and 
efforts on the side of bureaucrats to be more careful and 
humane in doing their business. Fortunately, Japanese 
bureaucrats— both national and local— nowadays have such a 
learning capacity. Another factor which has worked so far in 

Japan 145 

recent years is the financial ability of government to afford 
additional spending in order to appease the protest 
movements by compensating the alleged damage or promising 
costly changes of plans. It is certainly an easy solution, 
avoiding the. priority problem, which will become difficult in 
the approaching tighter governmental budget situation. 

2. Social and Economic Values 

In a society such as Japan after World War II, where 
indoctrination from above with the threat of punishment was 
nonexistent, where any kind of religious inhibitions after 
the separation of the Shinto from the state were virtually 
nonexistent, and where social changes, such as urbanization, 
rise of income, and change of consumption styles due to the 
rapid economic changes, were so rapid, it would be natural to 
expect that every aspect of social relationships and values 
underlying them would change considerably. Again, the most 
illuminating data showing the kinds of changes of social 
relations and their underlying values are found in the surveys 
conducted by the Institute of Statistical Mathematics, 
Ministry of Education every five years since 1953. One 
question notes that "there are all sorts of attitudes toward 
life. Of those listed here (the list is shown), which one would 
you say comes closest to your feeling?" The percentages of 
those who picked "don't think about money or fame, just 
live a life that suits your own tastes," have increased from 2 1 
percent in 1953 to 27 percent in 1958, 30 percent in 1963, 
32 percent in 1968, and 39 percent in 1973 by national 
average. 13 People have come to prefer less strenuous, more 
relaxed ways of life. The change has been most conspicuous 
among the younger generation. 

What are the effects of such value changes on Japanese 
working behavior? Other survey data 14 show that the 
younger workers have stronger demands for shorter working 
hours, more holidays, and longer vacations, as well as more 
opportunity for self-actualization on the job. (Table 4). 




















































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Japan 147 

However, the same table tells us about a number of other 
features of Japanese workers' demands. ( 1 ) Even among the 
young workers wage raises is still the most outstanding 
demand. Money is not the goal of life as the survey data 
show; however, wage increases are the gravest concern for 
workers in all ages. (2) Middle-aged people, especially those 
with growing families, have an increased desire to own a 
house, particularly on their own land, which will serve as 
security in an age of continued inflation. (3) Senior workers 
are naturally more concerned about their retirement, health 
care, and other welfare measures. 

In spite of the ^hanging values of the workers, the 
Japanese organizations— both governmental organizations and 
private enterprises— have coped skillfully so far in maintaining 
a high level of motivation for work among their employees, 
as indicated by a very low rate of absence (2.12 percent in a 
survey of February 1973 15 ). The reasons for this success are: 
(1) The workforce still contains a large proportion of older 
generations who are committed to older values which lay 
emphasis on dedication to hard work and loyalty to the 
organizations. It is often pointed out that the middle-aged, 
middle-management people in particular have a generational 
feature of this kind. (2) Japanese big organizations with their 
paternalistic tradition have the capacity and resources to 
absorb a variety of demands of the workers of various 
generations including the youngest: better medical care, 
housing loans with lower interest, better recreational 
facilities, and of course, so far, large annual increases in 
wages. Moreover, they are now introducing a five-day work 
week, longer vacations, and an extension of the retirement 
age from fifty-five to sixty— on these points, they are in a 
position to make concessions to workers' demands. (3) The 
Japanese younger generation is, in comparison with the 
previous, older generation, less work-oriented, less 
organization-oriented, and more self-assertive. In comparison 
with West European or American youth, however, the 

148 The Crisis of Democracy 

present Japanese youth still retains some virtues favorable to 
the functioning of organizations if the Japanese organizations 
are clever enough to make an improvement in their 
operations. For instance, according to national character 
surveys, the preference of the Japanese for department chiefs 
who are paternalistic over those who are rationally specific 
remains unchanged, 16 Many of them want "self-actualization 
on the job." According to an eleven-country study of youth 
conducted by the Japanese government, the percentages of 
Japanese youth who have chosen "a job worth doing" as the 
most precious thing in their lives are the highest among the 
countries surveyed. In spite of signs of decline and less 
diffuse commitment to the organizations among Japanese 
youth, comparatively speaking, the Japanese youth are 
still seeking more from the organizations, and, when or- 
ganizations are flexible enough to introduce an improve- 
ment to take care of more self-assertive youth, they can 
maintain a fairly high level of work motivation among 
the youth, keeping the basic lines of Japanese organizations 
such as life employment, enterprise union, diffuse social 
relationships within the organizations, and so on. For 
example, so far .there has never even been serious discussion 
of abolishing the belt conveyor system in assembly lines in 
Japanese factories. 

All the labor and business specialists seem to agree 17 that 
the Japanese organizational structures with life employment, 
enterprise unions, relatively strong commitment to the 
organizations, and higher motivation to work will survive at 
least until 1980, as far as the internal factors within them are 
concerned. Conversely, this means that in the first part of the 
1980s Japan will reach the critical point where the 
accumulated changes of work ethics, attitudes toward life, 
and those toward company and union will necessitate 
corresponding changes in the hitherto established institutions 
and practices in labor relations. Therefore, it will be wiser for 
Japanese society to prepare for that period and preempt 

Japan 149 

some of the anticipated reforms in advance. 




1 . Time Lag 

Comparing the three regions, Japanese democracy seems to 
be suffering less from various changes which have already had 
threatening effects on democracies in the other two regions. 
Japan seems to be enjoying the time lag between causes 
already occurred and the consequences to follow, partly 
due to the remaining reservoir of traditional values, 18 and 
partly due to the structure of its economy. 

2. Decline of Leadership and Delay of Decisions 

Some of the consequences of these changes have, however, 
already emerged to weaken the leadership capacity of 
Japanese democracy, and the world situation has been 
changing in the direction of demanding more positive action 
of Japan, which will be generated only by a higher level of 
leadership capacity. 

As is well known, the LDP is facing the possibility of 
losing its majority position in the Diet. The opposition 
parties are split, that is, there is no opposition party which 
can take the responsibility of governing by itself. Of course, a 
multiparty system and coalition formation are not 
intrinsically dysfunctional to the operation of democracy. 
Moreover, the LDP as the majority governing party for twen- 
ty years generated a number of dysfunctions such as a sense 
of alienation on the part of the supporters of opposition 
parties, excessive fusion of the LDP with the bureaucracy and 
big business, the ethical problem of political funds, and 
sporadic attempts to revive some part of prewar institutions, 
thereby causing unnecessary friction. 19 On the other hand, 
since coalition formation is quite a new experience to Japan- 

1 50 The Crisis of Democracy 

ese politics on the national level, some confusion and delay 
of decision would be unavoidable. Especially in foreign 
policy decision-making, any coalition— even the most moder- 
ate one of the LDP and the small Democratic Socialists— will 
bring with it a weakening of the Japan-U.S. alliance to some 
degree and probably recourse to a less positive role in inter- 
national affairs, from the U.S. viewpoint. In other words, 
coalition formation can bring a more drifting or flexible 
foreign policy than that under the LDP's single rule. 20 
Domestically also, a multiparty system and coalition 
formation are good for interest articulation but not neces- 
sarily good for interest aggregation. Even under the LDP's 
single rule, pressure groups have been rampant in getting 
shares in the government budget. Any coalition will be ex- 
posed to more diverse pressures in budget-making and policy 

3. Vagaries of Urban, Educated Nonpartisans 

A decade ago, the Socialists seemed to have a bright 
future, replacing the LDP and taking the position of 
governing party at some time. The Socialists were then 
getting the support of the more-educated in the urban 
areas. 21 Today, however, in the urban areas, not only the 
LDP, but also the Socialists are declining. The Komei, the 
Communists and, although in less degree, the Democratic 
Socialists are getting a larger share of the votes than before. 
But these parties are also uncertain about their future 
because what exists in big cities is a vast number of floating 
voters with a nonpartisan orientation, whose educational 
level t is high. It seems that no single party will be able to 
organize this section of the voters as the solid basis of 
support for it. Fortunately, the possibility is quite slim or 
nonexistent that these people will come to support the 
extreme rightists or extreme leftists even in the case of a 
sudden international or domestic crisis. But they are 
vagarious in voting, switching their votes from one party to 

Japan 151 

another, and they like to vote for a popular nonpartisan 
candidate if such a candidate can be found. Successful 
candidates in gubernatorial elections or mayoral elections in 
urban areas are those who can appeal to this kind of voter in 
addition to gaining the support of more than one party. The 
increasing importance of urban, educated nonpartisans has a 
positive function in making politicians and political parties 
more responsive to the demands of the populace outside their 
regular supporters. However, by encouraging excessive 
populistic responsiveness by the politicians and political 
parties, this can also lower their capacity for integration. 

4. The Place of theXToffinTunists in the Multiparty System 

The Japan Communist party (JCP) has been successful in 
recent elections in increasing its votes and seats at both the 
national and local level. To take the case 'of the House of 
Representatives, the JCP's votes have increased from 2.2 
million votes (4.76 percent of the total votes cast) in 1967 to 
3.2 million votes (6.81 percent) in 1969, and to 5.5 million 
votes (10.49 percent) in 1972. Especially in metropolitan 
areas, the JCP is now getting about 20 percent of the total 
vote. And the JCP has more than 300,000 members (virtually 
the largest solid party membership in Japan) and its 
daily party newspaper has more than a million circulation. A 
number of prefectural governors and big city mayors were 
elected with the joint support of the JCP together with the 
Socialists, and, in some cases, the Komei party. 

Does the JCP present any possible threat to the 
governability of Japanese democracy in near future? Most of 
the observations seem to support the negative, that is, 
optimistic answer, for the following reasons. First, the JCP 
seems to be approaching its ceiling in terms of share of the 
votes. As a nationwide average 15 percent would be the 
ceiling at least for the 1970s, with 30 percent in metropolitan 
areas where the JCP is maintaining its strongholds. Second, a 
major factor which contributed to the increase of support for 

152 The Crisis of Democracy 

the JCP is its soft and flexible domestic policies and 
nationalistic foreign policies independent from the Soviet and 
Chinese Communist parties. Domestically, the JCP with an 
average of 15 percent of the votes, or 30 percent in big cities, 
adopting soft lines would do no harm at all to Japanese 
democracy. Many domestic issues would be negotiable with 
this kind of JCP. In the foreign policy area, an independent 
and nationalistic JCP would function as a factor to enhance 
Japan's isolation, not only from the United States but also 
from China and other Asian countries. In this respect, it can 
be said that the JCP would work dysfunctionally. 

-5. What Will Happen in the 1980s? 

Japanese democracy is not in a serious crisis at the present 
moment. However, the time lag mentioned above means that 
Japanese democracy will face the consequences of social 
changes in a future, possibly tighter situation. In comparison 
with the United States, where the "democratic surge" can be 
regarded as already having passed the peak, in Japan there is 
no sign of decline in the increasing tide of popular demands. 
On the other hand, financial resources of the government are 
showing signs of stagnation. The reservoir of traditional 
values of obedience, groupism, frugality, etc., which are still 
working to counterbalance the rising tide of popular demands 
and protest, might be exhausted at some future time. Thus, 
the emergence of the time-lagged consequences and the 
exhaustion of the "traditional" reservoir will both come in 
the early 1980s, as many people argue. 

What will become of Japanese democracy after 1980? 
According to a survey on national goals, 22 a majority of the 
Japanese leaders surveyed believe that Japan will continue to 
be committed to democratic principles and to a "uniquely 
Japanese democracy" in the future. But what this would be 
and how it can be built are still unclear. 

Japan 153 


1 . Joji Watanuki, "Contemporary Japanese Perceptions of 
International Society," Sophia University, Institute of International 
Relations Research Paper Series A-13, 1973. 

2. Joji Watanuki, "Formation and Survival of Japanese Democracy 
after the Second World War," a paper presented to the VIII World 
Congress of Sociology, Toronto, Canada, August 1974. 

3 . As for koenkai, see also Joji Watanuki, "Japanese Politics in 
Flux," in James William Morley (ed.), Prologue to the Future-The 

United States and Japan in the Postindustrial Age (Lexington: D. C. 

Heath, 1974), pp. 77-79. 

4. According to ._ the. report on the revenue of political funds 
compiled by Ministry of Autonomy for the first half of 1974, out of a 
registered total of 51.6 billion yen ($172 million) in political funds, the 
LDP itself and LDP factions together got 40 billion yen. See The 
Yomiuri Shimbun, December 25, 1974. Moreover, it is widely believed 
that, if we take "hidden money" into consideration, the LDP is 
spending more. For instance, it was pointed out that the actual sum of 
money the LDP spent in 1972 was nearly 100 billion yen, although the 
official record for that year was 26 billion yen. See Bungei Shunju, 
September 1974. 

5 . In a survey on Bureay and Section Chiefs in the Japanese 
national bureaucracy, 37 percent answered that they are independent 
when asked about their party preference. Especially in the Ministry of 
International Trade and Industry and the Economic Planning Agency, 
the majority chose the position of independent. This is proof of the 
high political neutrality of technocrats. Nikkei Business Henshubu, 
Nippon no Kigyo Kankyo (Tokyo: Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 1974), pp. 

6. Ibid., p. 72. 

7. These figures include the general account but exclude special 
accounts and governmental investment; they include the starting budget 
but do not count any additional budget; and they are nominal values. 

. 8. These figures are cited from Nobutaka Shikauch, "Nihon no 
Masukomi no Genjo to Fuji-Sankei-Group no Chosen," Seiron, 
November, 1974. Also, I am indebted to this article in describing the 

154 The Crisis of Democracy 

characteristics of Japanese mass media. 

9. For instance, see "Review of National Policies for Education," 
Education Committee, OECD, November, 1970. 

10. For instance, see Joji Watanuki, "Contemporary Japanese 
Perceptions of International Society," op. cit., table 4 in appendix. 

11. -Japanese data were gathered by Komei Senkyo Renmei in a 
nationwide survey conducted in December 1972. European data were 
based on a survey conducted by Professor Inglehart. See Ronald 
Inglehart, 'The Silent Revolution in Europe: Intergenerational Change 
in Postindustrial Societies ," American Political Science Review, vol. 65, 
no. 4 (December 1971), pp. 991-1017. 

12. Komei Senkyo-Renmei, Sangiin Tsujosenkyo no Jittai, 1974. 

13. Institute of Statistical Mathematics, A Study of the Japanese 
National Character— The Fifth Nationwide Survey, Research Report 
General Series No. 38, 1974, p. 25. 

14. From a survey conducted by the Ministry of Labor in 1971. 
Cited from Shokuken, 1974, Spring, p. 3. 

15. From the survey on the illness and absence of workers, 
conducted by the Ministry of Labor, February 1973. Moreover, 
vacations are counted as absence. 

16. Institute of Mathematical Statistics, op. cit., p. 55. 

1 7. Sadayoshi Okubo, Rodo no Miraiyosoku [Prediction of Future 
Labor] (Tokyo: Teikoku Chihogyosei Gakkai, 1972). 

1 8. Since the oil crisis, many observers argue that we have to return 
to traditional values. For instance, ex-Vice Minister of MITI, Eimei 
Yamashita, answered a question by Bernard Krisher, Newsweek's 
Tokyo bureau chief, as follows: Question: What about the impact of 
Japan's economic crunch on traditional values?" Answer: "I see it as 
leading to a return to traditional values rather than a departure from 
them. During the past decade, Japanese youth abandoned all ideas of 
saving. They spent lavishly on clothes, electronics, and cars. But since 
the oil crisis, we have returned to more basic Japanese concepts. I don't 
think we will revert entirely to the mentality of Tokugawa feudalism, 
but we will be able to strike a happy balance." Newsweek, November 
18, 1974, p. 15. 

19. For instance, even today, under the Miki Cabinet, some LDP 
members are tenaciously trying to make the Yasukuni shrine— a Shinto 
shrine dedicated to those who died in battle since Meiji— a national 

Japan 155 

institution, despite fierce protest from not only opposition parties but 
also Christians. 

20. Whether Japanese toreign policy will be labeled "drifting" or 
"flexible" depends on whether we can establish our own principles of 
diplomacy under a multiparty system or not. 

21. Cf. Joji Watanuki, "Patterns of Politics in Present-day Japan," S. 
M. Lipset and Stein Rokkan, eds., Party Systems and Voter Alignments 
(New York: The Free Press, 1967). 

22. Yasumasa Tanaka, "Toward a Multi-Level, Multi-Stage Model of 
Modernization: A Case Study of Japanese Opinion Leaders on the 
Present and Future National Goals," Gakushuin Review of Law and 
Politics, 9, 1974, p. 27. 




If ever there was a democratic success story, it was written 
by the Trilateral societies during the quarter-century 
following World War II. The components of that success 
included: generally positive and broadgauged political 
leadership within individual countries and by the United 
States for the community of democratic nations; sustained 
and, for some countries, spectacular economic growth; 
widespread social and economic amelioration, involving a 
lessening of class conflict and the assimilation of substantial 
portions of the population to middle-class values, attitudes, 
and consumption patterns; and successful resistance, on a 
collective and individual basis, to the challenges posed 
externally by Soviet military might and internally by 
communist party strength. During these years democratic 
institutions, mostly of a parliamentary nature, demonstrated 
their viability in all the Trilateral societies; liberal, 
conservative, social democratic, and christian democratic 
parties competed with each other in regular elections and 
shared the responsibilities of government and the 
opportunities for opposition; individual citizens and 


158 The Crisis of Democracy 

organized groups participated more actively in the politics 
of their societies than they had previously; the rights of the 
citizen against the state became more firmly guaranteed and 
protected; and new institutions for international collaboration 
among democratic societies emerged in Europe for economic 
and political purposes, between North America and Europe for 
military purposes, and among Europe, North America, and 
Japan for economic purposes. 

This happy congruence of circumstances for democracy 
has come to an end. The challenges which democratic 
governments now face are the products of these past 
successes as well as of the changes in past trends. The 
incorporation of substantial elements of the population into 
the middle classes has escalated their expectations and 
aspirations, thereby causing a more intense reaction if these 
are not met in reality. Broadened political participation has 
increased the demands on government. Widespread material 
well-being has caused a substantial portion of the population, 
particularly among the young and the "intellectual" 
professional classes, to adopt new life-styles and new 
social-political values. Internationally, confrontation has 
given way to detente, with a resultant relaxation of 
constraints within societies and of the impetus to collaborate 
among societies. There has been a substantial relative decline 
in American military and economic power, and a major 
absolute decline in American willingness to assume the 
burdens of leadership. And most recently, the temporary 
slowdown in economic growth has threatened the 
expectations created by previous growth, while still leaving 
existent the "postbourgeois" values which it engendered 
among the youth and intellectuals. 


Dissatisfaction with and lack of confidence in the 

Conclusion 1 59 

functioning of the institutions of democratic government 
have thus now become widespread in Trilateral countries. Yet 
with all this dissatisfaction, no significant support has yet 
developed for any alternative image of how to organize the 
politics of a highly industrialized society. Before World War 
II both right-wing and left-wing movements set forth 
clear-cut political alternatives to the "decadent" institutions 
of "bourgeois" parliamentary democracy. Today those 
institutions are accepted even if they are not praised. The 
active proponents of a different vision of the political order 
are, by and large, limited to small bands of radical students 
and intellectuals whose capacity to attract attention through 
propaganda and terrorism is heavily outweighed by their 
incapacity to attract support from any significant social 
groups. In Japan, the 1 947 "occupation" Constitution is now 
accepted as the way in which Japanese politics will be 
organized for the foreseeable future. In Europe, even the 
French and Italian communist parties have adapted 
themselves to the democratic game and at least assert that if 
admitted to power they will continue to play according to 
the rules of that game. No significant social or political group 
in a Trilateral society seriously proposes to replace existing 
democratic institutions with a nationalist autocracy, the 
corporate state, or even the dictatorship of the proletariat. 
The lack of confidence in democratic institutions is clearly 
exceeded by the lack of enthusiasm for any alternative set of 

What is in short supply in democratic societies today is 
thus not consensus on the rules of the game but a sense of 
purpose as to what one should achieve by playing the game. 
In the past, people have found their purposes in religion, in 
nationalism, and in ideology. But neither church, nor state, 
nor class now commands people's loyalties. In some measure, 
democracy itself was inspired by and its institutions shaped 
by manifestations of each of these forces and commitments. 
Protestantism sanctified the individual conscience; nation- 

160 The Crisis of Democracy 

alism postulated the equality of citizens; and liberalism 
provided the rationale for limited government based on 
consent. But now all three gods have failed. We have 
witnessed the dissipation of religion, the withering away of 
nationalism, the decline— if not the end— of class-based ide- 

In a nondemocratic political system, the top leadership 
can select a single purpose or closely related set of goals and, 
in some measure, induce or coerce political and social forces 
to shape their behavior in terms of the priorities dictated 
by these goals. Third World dictatorships can direct their 
societies towards the "overriding" goal of national de- 
velopment; communist states can mobilize their populace 
for the task of "building socialism." In a democracy, 
however, purpose cannot be imposed from on high by fiat; 
nor does it spring to life from the verbiage of party 
platforms, state of the union messages, or speeches from the 
throne. It must, instead, be the product of the collective 
perception by the significant groups in society of a major 
challenge to their well-being and the perception by them that 
this challenge threatens them all about equally. Hence, in 
wartime or periods of economic catastrophe, common pur- 
poses are easily defined. During World War II and then the 
cold war, there was a general acceptance in the United States 
of the overriding priority of national security as a goal. In 
Europe and Japan, after World War II, economic reconstruc- 
tion and development were supported as goals by virtually all 
major groups in society. World war, economic reconstruction, 
and the cold war gave coherence to public purposes and im- 
posed a set of priorities for ordering government policies 
and programs. Now, however, these purposes have lost their 
salience and even come under challenge; the imperatives of 
national security are no longer obvious, the desirability of 
economic growth is no longer unquestioned. 

In this situation, the machinery of democracy continues to 
operate, but the ability of the individuals operating that 

Conclusion 161 

machinery to make decisions tends to deteriorate. Without 
common purpose, there is no basis for common priorities, 
and without priorities, there are no grounds for distinguishing 
among competing private interests and claims. Conflicting 
goals and specialized interests crowd in one upon another, 
with executives, cabinets, parliaments, and bureaucrats 
lacking the criteria to discriminate among them. The system 
becomes one of anomic democracy, in which democratic 
politics becomes more an arena for the assertion of 
conflicting interests than a process for the building of 
common purposes. 


Quite apart from the substantive policy issues confronting 
democratic government, many specific problems have arisen 
which seem to be an intrinsic part of the functioning of 
democracy itself. The successful operation of democratic 
government has given rise to tendencies which impede that 

(1) The pursuit of the democratic virtues of equality and 
individualism has led to the delegitimation of 
authority generally and the loss of trust in leadership. 

(2) The democratic expansion of political participation 
and involvement has created an "overload" on 
government and the imbalanced expansion of 
governmental activities, exacerbating inflationary 
tendencies in the economy. 

(3) The political competition essential to democracy has 
intensified, leading to a disaggregation of interests 
and the decline and fragmentation of political parties. 

(4) The responsiveness of democratic government to the 
electorate and to societal pressures encourages 
nationalistic parochialism in the way in which 
democratic societies conduct their foreign relations. 

162 The Crisis of Democracy 

1 . The Delegitimation of Authority 


In most of the Trilateral countries in the past decade there 
has been a decline in the confidence and trust which the 
people have in government, in their leaders, and, less clearly 
but most importantly, in each other. Authority has been 
challenged not only in government, but in trade unions, 
business enterprises, schools and universities, professional 
associations, churches, and civic groups. In the past, those 
institutions which have played the major role in the 
indoctrination of the young in their rights and obligations as 
members of society have been the family, the church, the 
school, and the army. The effectiveness of all these 
institutions as a means of socialization has declined severely. 
The stress has been increasingly on individuals and their 
rights, interests, and needs, and not on the community and 
its rights, interests, and needs. These attitudes have been 
particularly prevalent in the young, but they have also 
appeared in other age groups, especially among those who 
have achieved professional, white-collar, and middle-class 
status. The success of the existing structures of authority in 
incorporating large elements of the population into the 
middle class, paradoxically, strengthens precisely those 
groups which are disposed to challenge the existing structures 
of authority. 

The democratic spirit is egalitarian, individualistic, 
populist, and impatient with the distinctions of class and 
rank. The spread of that spirit weakens the traditional threats 
to democracy posed by such groups as the aristocracy, the 
church, and the military. At the same time, a pervasive spirit 
of democracy may pose an intrinsic threat and undermine all 
forms of association, weakening the social bonds which hold 
together family, enterprise, and community. Every social 
organization requires, in some measure, inequalities in 
authority and distinctions in function. To the extent that the 
spread of the democratic temper corrodes all of these, 

Conclusion 163 

exercising a leveling and an homogenizing influence, it 
destroys the bases of trust and cooperation among citizens 
and creates obstacles to collaboration for any common 

Leadership is in disrepute in democratic societies. Without 
confidence in its leadership, no group functions effectively. 
When the fabric of leadership weakens among other groups in 
society, it is also weakened at the top political levels of 
government. The governability of a society at the national 
level depends upon the extent to which it is effectively 
governed at the subnational, regional, local, functional, and 
industrial levels. In the modern state, for instance, powerful 
trade union "bosses" are often viewed as a threat to the 
power of the state. In actuality, however, responsible union 
leaders with effective authority over their members are less of 
a challenge to the authority of the national political leaders 
than they are a prerequisite to the exercise of authority by 
those leaders. If the unions are disorganized, if the 
membership is rebellious, if extreme demands and wild-cat 
strikes are the order of the day, the formulation and 
implementation of a national wage policy become impossible. 
The weakening of authority throughout society thus 
contributes to the weakening of the authority of government. 

2. The Overloading of Government 

Recent years in the Trilateral countries have seen the 
expansion of the demands on government from individuals 
and groups. The expansion takes the form of: (1) the 
involvement of an increasing proportion of the population in 
political activity; (2) the development of new groups and of 
new consciousness on the part of old groups, including 
youth, regional groups, and ethnic minorities; (3) the 
diversification of the political means and tactics which groups 
use to secure their ends; (4) an increasing expectation on the 
part of groups that government has the responsibility to meet 

164 The Crisis of Democracy 

their needs; and (5) an escalation in what they conceive 
those needs to be. 

The result is an "overload" on government and the 
expansion of the role of government in the economy and 
society. During the 1960s governmental expenditures, as a 
proportion of GNP, increased significantly in all the principal 
Trilateral countries, except for Japan. This expansion of 
governmental activity was attributed not so much to the 
strength of government as to its weakness and the inability 
and unwillingness of central political leaders to reject the 
demands made upon them by numerically and functionally 
important groups in their society. The impetus to respond to 
the demands which groups made on government is deeply 
rooted in both the attitudinal and structural features of a 
democratic society. The democratic idea that government 
should be responsive to the people creates the expectation 
that government should meet the needs and correct the evils 
affecting particular groups in society. Confronted with the 
structural imperative of competitive elections every few 
years, political leaders can hardly do anything else. 

Inflation is obviously not a problem which is peculiar to 
democratic societies, and it may well be the result of causes 
quite extrinsic to the democratic process. It may, however, 
be exacerbated by a democratic politics and it is, without 
doubt, extremely difficult for democratic systems to deal 
with effectively. The natural tendency of the political 
demands permitted and encouraged by the dynamics of a 
democratic system helps governments to deal with the 
problems of economic recession, particularly unemployment, 
and it hampers them in dealing effectively with inflation. In 
the face of the claims of business groups, labor unions, and 
the beneficiaries of governmental largesse, it becomes 
difficult if not impossible for democratic governments to 
curtail spending, increase -taxes, and control prices and wages. 
In this sense, inflation is the economic disease of 

Conclusion *" 5 

3. The Disaggregation of Interests 

A primary function of politics is to aggregate the various 
interests in society so as to promote common purposes and 
to create coalitions behind policies and leaders. In a 
democratic society this process takes place through 
complicated processes of bargaining and compromise within 
government, within and between the political parties, and 
through electoral competition. The multiple sources of power 
in a democratic society insure that any policy decision, when 
it is made, usually has to have at least the tacit support of a 
majority of those affected by and concerned with it. In this 
sense, consensus-building is at the heart of democratic 
politics. At the same time, however, the opportunities which 
democratic politics offers to particular opinions, interests, 
and groups to be represented in the political process 
necessarily tend to stimulate the formulation and articulation 
of such opinions, interests, and groups. While the common 
interest is in compromise and consensus, it is often beneficial 
to the particular individual or group to differentiate its 
interest from other interests, to assert that interest 
vigorously, and at times to be intransigent in defending that 
interest against others. In a democracy, in short, the top 
political leaders work to aggregate interests; the political 
process often works to disaggregate them. 

The most obvious political manifestation of the 
disaggregation of interests and the withering away of 
common purposes is in the decomposition which has affected 
the political party systems in Trilateral societies. In almost 
every country the support for the principal established 
political parties has declined, and new parties, small parties, 
and antiparty movements have gained in strength. At one 
time or another during 1974, no party had a majority in the 
legislatures of Great Britain, Canada, France, the Federal 
Republic of Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, 
Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. And the functional 

1 66 The Crisis of Democracy 

equivalent to the lack of a majority existed in the United 
States with different parties in control of the executive and 
legislative branches of the government. This failure of the 
party system to produce electoral and parliamentary majori- 
ties obviously had adverse effects on the ability of govern- 
ments to govern. 

A party system is a way of organizing the electorate, 
simplifying choice, selecting leaders, aggregating interests, 
and shaping policy choices and priorities. The development 
of political parties in the nineteenth century went hand-in- 
hand with the expansion of the suffrage and the increased 
responsibility of governments to their citizens. Parties made 
democratic government possible. Throughout the twentieth 
century, the strength of democracy has varied with the 
strength of the political parties committed to working with- 
in a democratic system. The decay of political party systems 
in the industrialized world poses the question: How viable is 
democratic government without parties or with greatly 
weakened and attenuated parties? 

4. Parochialism in International Affairs 

Just as the opportunities afforded by the democratic 
process tended to increase the strength and assertiveness of 
particularistic groups domestically, so they also tended to 
encourage a greater degree of parochialism in international 

The seeming decline in the external military threat 
produced a general slackening of concern throughout the 
Trilateral countries with the problems of security. In the 
absence of a clear and present danger to security, it is very 
difficult to mobilize support within a democracy for 
measures which may be necessary to provide for security. In 
the European and North American countries, compulsory 
military service has been reduced or abandoned entirely; 
military expenditures have declined in real terms and relative 
to national product; antimilitarism has become the vogue in 

Conclusion 1 67 

intellectual and political circles. Yet detente presumably rests 
upon the achievement of a rough military balance between 
the communist powers and the democracies. During the 
1960s the military exertions of th& communist powers 
brought such a balance into being and hence made detente 
feasible. During the 1970s military passivity on the part of 
the democracies could well undermine that balance and 
hence the basis for improved relations with the communist 

By and large, the quarter-century after World War II saw a 
removal of restrictions on trade and investment, and a general 
opening up of the economies of the industrialized, capitalist 
countries. In times of economic scarcity, inflation, and 
possible long-term economic downturn, however, the 
pressures in favor of nationalism and neo-mercantilism mount 
and democratic political systems find themselves particularly 
vulnerable to such pressures from industry groups, localities, 
and labor organizations, which see themselves adversely 
affected by foreign competition. The ability of governments 
to deal with domestic social and economic problems is 
reduced, as well as the confidence people have that 
legislatures will be able to deal with those problems. As a 
result, the leaders of democratic governments turn 
increasingly to foreign policy as the one arena where they can 
achieve what appear to be significant successes. Diplomatic 
triumph becomes essential to the maintenance of domestic 
power; success abroad produces votes at home. Heath and 
the Common Market, Brandt and the Moscow treaties, Nixon 
in Peking and SALT I, and Pompidou in challenging 
American leadership may or may not have done the best in 
terms of securing the long-term interests of their countries, 
but their domestic political needs left them little leeway not 
to come up with something. At the same time, the impact of 
inflation and domestic special interests engenders economic 
nationalism increasing the difficulties of cooperative action 
among the democratic powers. Given these pressures, the 

168 The Crisis of Democracy 

extent to which the democratic societies have been able to 
avoid the worst forms of beggar-thy-neighbor policies and 
devise some common responses to the economic and energy 
crises is, in many respects, quite remarkable. Yet the impact 
of domestic politics still leads democratic leaders to display 
greater eagerness to compromise when negotiating with their 
enemies and to have greater difficulty in compromising when 
they negotiate with each other. 

While the processes of democratic politics induce 
governmental leaders to look abroad for victories to sustain 
them at home, those same processes also tend to produce a 
tendency towards greater provincialism and nationalism in 
their outlook. The parochialization of leadership is surely 
one of the most striking trends of the past decade in the 
Trilateral democracies. Down through the early 1960s, 
leading statesmen in the democratic countries not only had 
(as was a prerequisite to statesmanship) a standing among 
their own people, but they also often had an appeal and a 
standing abroad among people in the other industrialized 
democracies. They were, in a sense, Trilateral statesmen as 
well as national statesmen. The resignation of Willy Brandt, 
however, removed from the scene the last of the democratic 
leaders who had a stature, a reputation, and a following that 
transcended his own society. This is not to say that the 
current leaders are necessarily narrowly nationalistic in their 
outlook and policies. It does mean, however, that they are 
the product of peculiarly national processes and that 
whatever their qualities as leaders, the names of Gerald Ford, 
Takeo Miki, Harold Wilson, Giscard d'Estaing, and Helmut 
Schmidt do not inspire enthusiasm and commitment outside 
their own societies. 


The features we have described above are found in all three 
rilateral regions. The relative intensity of the different 

Conclusion 1 69 

aspects of the problem varies, however, from country to 
country and from time to time within a country. The overall 
legitimacy of government is greater in Britain than in 
Italy. Confidence and trust in political institutions and 
leaders in the United States was much less during the 1960s 
and early 1970s than it was in the 1940s and 1950s and very 
probably considerably less than it will be during the coming 
years. The differing cultures and political traditions of the 
various countries means that each problem concerning the 
governability of democracy manifests itself in different ways 
and has to be dealt with by different means. Each country 
has its own peculiar strengths and weaknesses. In continental 
Europe and in Japan, for instance, there is a tradition of a 
strong and effective bureaucracy, in part because of the 
polarization and fragmentation among political parties. This 
bureaucracy furnishes continuity and stability to the system, 
functioning in some ways as both a gyroscope and an 
automatic pilot. In Britain and the United States, on the 
other hand, there are strong traditions of citizen participation 
in politics which insure the vitality of democracy at the same 
time that they may lower the competence and authority of 
government. If one were to generalize, one might say that the 
problem in the United States is more one of governability 
than of democracy, in Japan it is more one of democracy 
than of governability, while in Europe both problems are 

The demands on government and the needs for govern- 
ment have been increasing steadily in all the Trilateral soci- 
eties. The cause of the current malaise is the decline in the 
material resources and political authority available to gov- 
ernment to meet these demands and needs. These deficiencies 
vary significantly, however, from region to region. In the 
United States, the government is constrained more by the 
shortage of authority than by the shortage of resources. In 
Japan, the government has so far been favored with a huge in- 
crease in resources due to rapid economic growth, and it has 

170 The Crisis of Democracy 

been able to utilize the reservoir of traditional acquiescence 
among the people to support its authority. The growth in re- 
sources, however, is about to stop, and the reservoir of ac- 
quiescence is more and more draining down. In Europe, gov- 
ernments seem to be facing shortages of both authority and 
resources, which is the major reason why the problems con- 
cerning the governability of democracy are more urgent in 
Europe than in the other Trilateral regions. 

At the moment the principal strains on the governability 
of democracy may be receding in the United States, cresting 
in Europe, and pending in the future for Japan. During the 
1960s, the United States went through a period of creedal 
passion, of intense conflict over racial issues and the 
Indochina War, and of marked expansion in the extent and 
forms of political participation. In addition, in the 1970s the 
United States suffered a major constitutional crisis in the 
whole complex of issues involved in Watergate and the 
resignation of the President. At present, much of the passion 
and intensity has departed from American politics, leaving 
the political leadership and institutions with the problem of 
attempting to redefine their functions in altered circum- 
stances, to restore the prestige and authority of central 
government institutions, and to grapple with the immediate 
economic challenges. Japan, on the other hand, appears to 
still have some time before the major challenges to 
democracy will come to a head, which they probably will in 
the early 1980s. Its organizational fabric and patterns of 
social control, moreover, provide advantages in giving control 
and direction to the new political forces and demands on 
government. This gain in time will give the existing 
democratic institutions in Japan opportunity to consolidate 
themselves further and will permit the party leaders in all the 
major parties to adapt to a situation in which the Liberal 
Democratic party no longer commands a secure majority. 

Europe, in contrast, has to face current issues which make 
it the most vulnerable of the three regions at the present 

Conclusion 171 

time. It must make long-term investments quickly inasmuch 
as it will not be able to handle its problems with the current 
resources it has available. In addition, it must maintain tight 
enough control over short-run issues since it has to face a 
crisis from within as well as a crisis from without. 





Kyoto, May 31, 1975 

The study by Michel Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington, and 
Joji Watanuki, prepared for the Trilateral Commission, was 
discussed during plenary meetings of the Commission in 
Kyoto, Japan in May 1975. This three-part appendix is aimed 
at advancing dialogue on the issues involved. The first part 
lists some "arenas for action" prepared as points of departure 
for the Kyoto discussion; the second provides remarks by 
Ralf Dahrendorf, who opened the discussion in Kyoto; and 
the third summarizes discussion of the report among mem- 
bers of the Commission. 


While there is much to praise in the performance of 
democratic government in the Trilateral societies, there are 
also areas of critical weakness and potential breakdown. The 
heart of the problem lies in the inherent contradictions 
involved in the very phrase "governability of democracy." 
For, in some measure, governability and democracy are 
warring concepts. An excess of democracy means a deficit in 
governability; easy governability suggests faulty democracy. 
At times in the history of democratic government the 
pendulum has swung too far in one direction or the other. 

At the present time, it appears that the balance has tilted 
too far against governments in Western Europe and the 
United States; in Japan, as yet, this problem is not acute, 
although it may well become so. The United States and 


174 The Crisis of Democracy 

Western Europe consequently need to restore a more 
equitable relationship between governmental authority and 
popular control, and Japan may face this necessity in the 
not-too-distant future. The - steadily rising need for 
government to manage the interrelations of a complex 
society is likely to require an increase in the material 
resources and political authority available to government. In 
the United States and Western Europe, both have been in 
short supply already. Even in Japan, both will be in short 
supply in the future. There are at least seven areas in which 
these problems can be tackled, which are relevant 
immediately to Europe and the United States and in the 
not-too-remote future also to Japan. 

1 . Effective Planning for Economic and Social Development 

The historical record indicates that democracy works 
best — indeed, that it may only work — when there is a 
gradual but relatively constant increase in the economic 
well-being of society. The record of the recent past suggests 
that in industrialized societies each additional increment in 
the rate of economic growth tends to be distributed in order 
to provide more benefits to the poor than the previous 
increment. Reasonable rates of economic growth and 
relatively stable prices are essential for the achievement of 
socioeconomic equity. The control of inflation and the 
promotion of economic growth, taking into careful 
consideration the effects of such growth on resource 
exhaustion and environmental pollution, consequently must 
have top priority on the agenda of democracy. In addition, 
poverty remains a problem in many parts of Europe and the 
United States, and governmental programs must give the 
highest priority to establishing a minimum floor of 
guaranteed subsistence for all citizens. The specific measures 
by which governments can promote these goals must be 
devised by economists and planners, but critical considera- 
tion should be given to proposals such as that recently 

Appendix 175 

advanced in the United States for a new economic planning 
agency attached to the White House. It is necessary here 
simply to underline the extent to which the governability of 
democracy seems dependent upon the sustained expansion of 
the economy. Political democracy requires economic growth; 
economic growth without inflation depends upon effective 
democratic planning. The opportunities for more effective 
planning are not, moreover, simply confined to issues of 
economic growth. The trilateral societies have an accumu- 
lation of social knowledge which could be used for solution 
of some social problems. The governments in Trilateral 
societies have the possibility of becoming "wiser" in allocat- 
ing scarce resources in the most effective way, searching for 
alternatives, and assessing the effects of policies, through 
proper use of the social knowledge and skills which have been 
accumulated and may still be developed. 

2. Strengthening the Institutions of Political Leadership 

In recent years, the publics in the Trilateral societies have 
expected much of their political leaders. They have been 
expected to "deliver the goods" in terms of achieving policy 
outputs and outcomes to which they have committed 
themselves and their governments. In many instances, 
however, political leaders have been left deficient in the 
institutional resources and authority necessary to achieve 
these goals. A pervasive suspicion of the motives and power 
of political leaders on the part of the public has given rise to 
the imposition of legal and institutional barriers which serve 
to prevent them from achieving the goals which the public 
expects them accomplish. In the long run the leadership 
vacuum will be filled in one way or another, and strong 
institutionalized leadership is clearly preferable to personal- 
ized charismatic leadership. 

In the United States, the strengthening of leadership 
institutions requires action with respect to both the Congress 
and the president. In Congress, for the past decade the trend 

176 The Crisis of Democracy 

has been toward a greater dispersion of power in both the 
House and Senate. Yet if Congress is to play an effective 
governing role as distinct from a critical and opposition role, 
it has to be able to formulate overall goals, determine 
priorities, and initiate programs. Inevitably this requires some 
centralization of power within Congress. 

The imperial presidency is rapidly disappearing into 
history, and there is clearly no need to bring it back. There is 
a need, however, to insure that the pendulum does not swing 
too far in the other direction. Proposed legislative restrictions 
on presidential power should always be judged by the 
question: If -the president does not exercise this power, who 
will? If Congress can exercise the power effectively, there 
may be good grounds for restricting the president. But every 
restriction of presidential power does not necessarily redound 
to the benefit of Congress. It may equally well increase the 
power of bureaucratic agencies or private interest groups. 

In Japan, the prime minister's leadership has been re- 
stricted by the bureaucratic sectionalism of each ministry. 
Budget-making is done totally by the Budget Bureau in the 
Ministry of Finance. The prime minister has no staff, and 
there is no coordinating agency under his direct command. 
The institutional strengthening of the prime minister's leader- 
ship through the transfer of the Budget Bureau to the prime 
minister's office or the Cabinet Secretariat, the creation of 
positions for high-level aides to the prime minister, and the 
reorganization and development of policy research and co- 
ordinating functions in the Cabinet Secretariat and prime 
minister's office, including various "Deliberation Councils," 
should be considered seriously. 

Under the LDP's single majority rule, the Diet has never 
exercised any leadership role. The budget presented by the 
government has been approved by the LDP majority without 
fail. Almost 100 percent of legislation has been presented by 
the government upon prior consultation with the governing 
party and been approved by the majority in the Diet. In light, 
however, of the possibility of the loss of a majority by the 

Appendix 177 

LDP, the Diet should be prepared to take more initiative in 
legislation and budget-making. 

The European situation is extremely diverse and does not 
call for common or even convergent remedies. The French 
presidency for the time being is extremely strong, much 
stronger than the American. If there is a problem it is to 
reintroduce democratic checks. If the problem is difficult, it 
is because very little margin has ever existed in the French 
tradition between the predominance of the executive, which 
means too few checks, and the predominance of Parliament, 
which means a rather impotent regime d'assemblee. The 
Italian government presents almost exactly the other side of 
the coin. Its decision-making capacity has almost disinte- 
grated and the problem is to restore conditions for 
developing a stronger, more stable, more active executive 
which can at the same time be accepted by the political class. 

Even if one does not focus on these extreme examples, one 
discovers that each country has its own idiosyncratic 
problems to which there is no common solution. Two 
common problems nevertheless emerge on which more 
general recommendations could be made. First of all, there is 
almost everywhere a crisis of parliaments. It is due only 
partially to legal or constitutional evolution, since it develops 
equally within opposite setups. One could better hypothesize 
that the divergent structural evolutions are just different 
answers to the same problem. This crisis involves the problem 
of representation and the problem of expertise. Modern 
parliaments do not have the necessary expertise to maintain 
an effective check on the executive and their members 
cannot represent citizens adequately in policy-making 
debates since they have to rely on earlier, now meaningless 
cleavages to be elected. 

The second common problem area is that of implementa- 
tion and public administration. Everywhere one discovers a 
complete dissociation between the decision-making system, 
dominated by traditional and often quite rhetorical political 
debate, and the implementation system, which is the preserve 

178 The Crisis of Democracy 

of administrative systems quite often centralized and strong, 
but usually even more irresponsive when they are centralized 
and strong. This dissociation is the main cause of political 
alienation amongst citizens. It continually nourishes Utopian 
dreams and radical postures and reinforces opposition to the 
state. The main effort in Europe should be, therefore, to 
reinsert democratic debate in administrative procedure, to 
prevent the monopoly of expertise by public administration, 
and to restore functions to parliament, by giving parliament 
new expertise and thus the possibility to debate on an equal 
level with the civil servants. Finally, a general reform of 
public administration. and especially of local implementation 
systems should be a central practical concern that could be 
answered by European countries in a genuinely comparative 
and cooperative way. 

3. Reinvigoration of Political Parties 

Party loyalties, like loyalties to church, state, and class, 
have tended to weaken throughout much of the Trilateral 
area. A more highly educated, more affluent, and generally 
more sophisticated public is less willing to commit itself 
blindly and irrevocably to a particular party and its 
candidates. Yet partisan allegiances, along with party 
conflicts, have historically been the bedrock of democracy. 
Even today political parties remain indispensable to insure 
open debate over meaningful choices, to help aggregate 
interests, and to develop political leaders. To continue to 
perform these functions they will have to adapt themselves to 
the changed needs and interests of the electorate. If the 
"post-industrial world" is a world in which knowledge is 
king, the political parties must increasingly devote themselves 
to supplying this commodity, just as in an earlier — and 
poorer — age they focused on material benefits such as jobs, 
patronage, and social insurance. 

To fulfill its political functions properly, a political party 
must, on the one hand, reflect the interests and needs of 

Appendix 179 

major social forces and interest groups and, on the other 
hand, it must also in some measure be independent of 
particular interests and capable of aggregating them and 
working out broader compromises among them. Changes in 
party structure, membership, leadership, and activities should 
be oriented towards increasing the ability of parties to 
perform these two conflicting but indispensable functions. In 
Europe, for instance, parties are still divided between parties 
of notables and mass membership parties. Mass parties 
emphasizing the defense of group interests and status 
positions prevent the aggregation of interests and the learning 
of compromise. Not only do they not train citizens for the 
difficulties of choice and the understanding of government, 
but they condition them to misunderstanding and to 
alienation. Nor do traditional parties of notables do a better 
job. They may emphasize aggregation much more in their 
action but keep themselves as narrow as possible and refuse 
to train citizens in real participation. 

Nowhere are the horns of the dilemma of interest 
representation versus interest aggregation more painfully 
visible than in the difficult area of party finance. Historically, 
political parties have in large part been dependent on the 
dues and subscriptions of individual members and supporters 
on the one hand, and on substantial contributions from 
business corporations and labor unions on the other. But, in 
addition, a number of Trilateral societies (including the four 
Scandinavian countries, France, Italy, Germany, and Canada) 
now appropriate public monies to cover party expenses 
between and during elections. In Germany the government 
provides an estimated 35 percent of party funds. 

The reinvigoration of political parties, needed for the 
effective working of democratic politics, seems to require a 
diversification of the sources from which parties raise their 
funds. Political parties should not be dependent exclusively 
upon either individual members or organized interests or the 
state for the resources needed to perform their functions. 
They should be able to draw support from all three sources. 

180 The Crisis of Democracy 

The achievement of the appropriate balance among these 
sources requires different action in different societies. In the 
United States, for instance, recent legislation providing public 
monies for presidential candidates represents a step in the 
proper direction. So also is the movement during the past 
decade to broaden the base of party finance and to solicit 
small sums from a large number of contributors. On the other 
hand, the laws prohibiting political contributions by 
corporations serve little useful purpose and, as recent 
prosecutions make clear, have been regularly evaded. The 
desirability of repealing such restrictions should be carefully 
considered. The danger that political parties will become 
unduly dependent upon and responsive to a few corporate 
interests can best be countered by (a) requiring full publicity 
for all political contributions and (b) insuring the availability 
of public monies as an alternative and balance to funds from 
the private sector. 

In Japan, the amount of money contributed by business 
corporations to the LDP has been disproportionally huge and 
has given rise to a sense of unfair competition and the 
suspicion of implicit corruption between the governing party 
and business. This unfairness might be attacked first of all by 
measures prohibiting all contributions by corporations, or at 
least setting strict upper limits on them and also requiring full 
publicity for the contributions made. The LDP needs to 
survive such a trial in order to consolidate the legitimacy of 
Japanese democracy itself. Even if such measures are destined 
to fail, by evasion and utilization of loopholes, they will still 
serve to create fairer competition between parties and 
stimulate individual contributions and involvement in party 
activities. Most difficult to achieve in Japan is an increase in 
individual contributions. Politicians and political parties 
should do their utmost to stimulate them. For instance, the 
personal sponsoring associations (koenkai) of individual 
politicians should undertake to finance themselves by 
contributions from their members. 

Appendix 181 

4. Restoring a Balance between Government and Media 

For well over 200 years in Western societies, a struggle has 
been underway to defend the freedom of the press to 
investigate, to criticize, to report, and to publish its findings 
and opinions against the efforts by government officials to 
curb that freedom. Freedom of the press is absolutely 
essential to the effective working of democratic government. 
Like any freedom, however, it is a freedom which can be 
abused. Recent years have seen an immense growth in the 
scope and power of the media. In many countries, in 
addition, either as a result of editorial direction or as a result 
of the increasing influence of the journalists vis-a-vis owners 
and editors, the press has taken an increasingly critical role 
towards government and public officials. In some countries, 
traditional norms of "objectivity" and "impartiality" have 
been brushed aside in favor of "advocatory journalism." The 
(responsibility of the press should now be increased to be 
commensurate with its power; significant measures are 
required to restore an appropriate balance between the press, 
the government, and other institutions in society. 

These recent changes in the press-government relationship 
are perhaps most clearly marked in the United States. The 
increase in media power is not unlike the rise of the industrial 
corporations to national power at the end of the nineteenth 
century. Just as the corporations enveloped themselves in the 
constitutional protection of the due process clause, the media 
now defend themselves in terms of the First Amendment.* In 
both cases, there obviously are important rights to be 
protected, but broader interests of society and government 

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States 
declares that "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of 
speech, or of the press." The due process clause is from the Fourteenth 
Amendment — "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, 
or property, without due process of law." 

182 The Crisis of Democracy 

are also at stake. In due course, beginning with the Interstate 
Commerce Act and the Sherman Antitrust Act,* measures 
had to be taken to regulate the new industrial centers of 
power and to define their relations to the rest of society. 
Something comparable appears to be now needed with 
respect to the media. Specifically, there is a need to insure to 
the press its right to print what it wants without prior 
restraint except in most unusual circumstances. But there is 
also the need to assure to the government the right and the 
ability to withhold information at the source. In addition, 
there is no reason for denying to public officials equal 
protection of the laws against libel, and the courts should 
consider moving promptly to reinstate the law of libel as a 
necessary and appropriate check upon the abuses of power 
by the press. Journalists should develop their own standards 
of professionalism and create mechanisms, such as press 
councils, for enforcing those standards on themselves. The 
alternative could well be regulation by the government. 

The Japanese press, especially the five nationwide 
newspapers with several millions circulation each and the 
commercial TV networks closely associated with each of 
them, have somewhat different traditions and problems from 
their counterparts in the United States or in Western Europe. 
Nonpartisanship and an opposition attitude towards the 
government have been the traditions of the Japanese press. 
The results are a policy of equal distance from all political 
parties, and a high sensitivity to the mood of the mass public. 
The functioning of Japanese democracy would be improved 
if the individual newspapers took clearer stands in support of 
or opposition to the government. 

In Europe, the more traditional and numerous press has 
given way to fewer, stronger and less committed oligopolistic 

The Interstate Commerce Act, passed by Congress in 1887, was 
aimed particularly at the major railroad companies. The Sherman 
Antitrust Act, passed in 1890, was aimed more generally. 

Appendix 183 

papers. This change, which was viewed at first as a trend 
toward depoliticization, in the end increased the political 
power of the press as an independent institution, thus 
bringing it closer to the American and Japanese situations. 
The same dangers therefore seem to appear with the need for 
the same kind of difficult but essential counterbalance. 

5. Reexamination of the Cost and the 
Functions of Higher Education 

The 1960s saw a tremendous expansion in higher 
education throughout the Trilateral societies. This expansion 
was the product of increasing affluence, a demographic bulge 
in the college-age group, and the increasingly widespread 
assumption that the types of higher education open formerly 
in most societies (with the notable exception of the United 
States) only to a small elite group should "by right" be made 
available generally. The result of this expansion, however, can 
be the overproduction of people with university education in 
relation to the jobs available for them, the expenditure of 
substantial sums of scarce public monies and the imposition 
on the lower classes of taxes to pay for the free public 
education of the children of the middle and upper classes. 
The expansion of higher education can create frustrations 
and psychological hardships among university graduates who 
are unable to secure the types of jobs to which they believe 
their education entitles them, and it can also create 
frustrations and material hardships for nongraduates who are 
unable to secure jobs which were previously open to them. 

In the United States, some retrenchment in higher 
education is already underway as a result of slower growth in 
enrollments and new ceilings on resources. What seems 
needed, however, is to relate educational planning to 
economic and political goals. Should a college education be 
provided generally because of its contribution to the overall 
cultural level of the populace and its possible relation to the 
constructive discharge of the responsibilities of citizenship? If 

184 The Crisis of Democracy 

this question is answered in the affirmative, a program is then 
necessary to lower the job expectations of those who receive 
a college education. If the question is answered in the 
negative, then higher educational institutions should be 
induced to redesign their programs so as to be geared to the 
patterns of economic development and future job 

In Japan, the expansion of higher education in the 1960s 
was achieved mainly through low-cost education by private 
universities without much money from the government. 
Financially, however, the private universities are now 
approaching bankruptcy, and low-cost education has created 
doubts about the quality of university education. An increase 
in public financial support to private universities is now 
under way. As for the employment of university graduates, at 
least so far, because of rapid expansion of the tertiary service 
sector, there has as yet been no problem of overproduction 
and unemployment. Major uncertainties, however, exist 
concerning the future of Japanese higher education. With the 
stagnation of the governmental budget, the increase of public 
funds for higher education will face a ceiling, and the choice 
as to whether Japan should have "low-quality and 
high-quantity higher education or "high-quality and 
limited-quantity" higher education will become serious. In 
addition, both employment and mobility of university 
graduates depend on the expansion of the tertiary sector, 
which is not unlimited. In this respect, also, Japan is now 
rapidly approaching the point where some "retrenchment" in 
higher education will be necessary. 

European higher education, in contrast, needs 
consolidation and rejuvenation more than retrenchment. 
Here again, it differs widely from country to country in its 
structure, modes of operation, and place in society. But 
everywhere it is parochial, conservative, and compartmenta- 
lized. With a few exceptions in sectors such as the profession- 
al schools and in countries such as Britain, it is chaotic, 

Appendix 185 

inefficient, operates extremely poorly, and develops opposi- 
tion and alienation among the students. One cannot overem- 
phasize the significance of such a state of affairs. By now 
higher education is the most important value-producing 
system in society. That it works either poorly or at cross- 
purposes with society should be a matter of great concern. 
Such opposition may be good and creative up to a point, but 
it has become more and more sterile since it is now depriving 
society of the necessary stimulus of the younger generation's 

6. More Active Innovation in the Area of Work 

A long tradition exists in the West and in Japan of 
governmental involvement in the broad area of labor and 
social policies. Such policies may be considered as one of the 
greatest achievements of Trilateral democracies. Health, 
hazard and security coverage, freedom of association, 
bargaining rights, the right to strike, and workers councils all 
provide broad protection and broad possibilities for correc- 
tive action. 

Two basic new problems have arisen, however, which take 
on more and more prominence as older ones recede. They are 
the problems of, first, the working structure of the 
enterprise, and, second, of the content of the job itself. Both 
of these problems call for a new kind of active intervention 
which is of great importance for each society's internal 
equilibrium and governability. These problems unfortunately 
are not amenable to easy legislative fiat or executive 
intervention. They require a painful transformation of social 
relations, of cultural and authority patterns, and even of 
modes of reasoning. 

Up to now the dominant social democratic or even liberal 
schools of thought have focused on proposals for industrial 
democracy modeled on patterns of political democracy. They 
have rarely succeeded, and when they did the proposals did 

186 The Crisis of Democracy 

not appear very effective, basically because they were 
running against the industrial culture and the constraints of 
business organization. This movement has found a new 
impetus, especially in Western Europe, with strong popular 
pressure for self-management and the rediscovery by the left 
of nationalization as a key argument in the political arena. 

Many people advocate the more moderate course of 
participation by labor in crucial decisions affecting output, 
productivity, and working conditions, such as developed in 
Germany under the name of codetermination. This would, 
they think, provide a strong incentive for unions to act 
responsibly. Income circumstances this could indeed be the 
result. On the other hand, however, codetermination has 
been only partially successful in Germany, and it would raise 
impossible problems in many Western democracies, either 
because leftist trade unionists would oppose it and utilize it 
without becoming any more moderate, or because employers 
would manage to defeat its purposes. 

A quite different, more promising, and more fundamental 
strategy is to focus on the second set of problems, those of 
the job, working conditions, and work organization. This is a 
much more concrete field where deep resentment and 
frustrations have developed, feeding back into the more 
conventional aspects of labor-management bargaining. This is 
a problem area where basic change is becoming possible. New 
thinking and experimentation has occurred, which should be 
widely encouraged and subsidized. Industry should be given 
all possible incentives to move ahead and implement 
gradually new modes of organization. This is the only way 
now to alleviate the new tensions that tend to mark 
post-industrial society in this area and which otherwise 
nourish irresponsible blackmailing tactics and new inflation- 
ary pressures. At the sanie time this is a necessary step to 
restore the status and dignity of manual work and therefore 

Appendix 187 

help solve the more and more acute problem of the immi- 
grant workers in Western Europe, which might otherwise 
become equivalent to the racial problems of the United 

7. Creation of New Institutions for the 
Cooperative Promotion of Democracy 

The effective working of democratic government in the 
Trilateral societies can now no longer be taken for granted. 
The increasing demands and pressures on democratic 
government and ihe crisis in governmental resources and 
public authority require more explicit collaboration. One 
might consider, therefore, means of securing support and 
resources from foundations, business corporations, labor 
unions, political parties, civic associations, and, where 
possible and appropriate, governmental agencies for the 
creation of an institute for the strengthening of democratic 
institutions. The purpose of such an institute would be to 
stimulate collaborative studies of common problems involved 
in the operations of democracy in the Trilateral societies, to 
promote cooperation among institutions and groups with 
common concerns in this area among the Trilateral regions, 
and to encourage the Trilateral societies to learn from each 
other's experience how to make democracy function more 
effectively in their societies. There is much which each 
society can learn from the others. Such mutual learning 
experiences are familiar phenomena in the economic and 
military fields; they must also be encouraged in the political 
field. Such an institute could also serve a useful function in 
calling attention to questions of special urgency, as, for 
instance, the critical nature of the problems currently 
confronting democracy in Europe. 

188 The Crisis of Democracy 



Governability presumably refers to the ability of 
governments to give direction to the economies, societies, 
and political communities in which they govern, and to do so 
effectively. Could it not be argued that one of the traditional 
characteristics of democracies is that we do not ask 
governments to give direction to the economies, societies, 
and political communities, at least not to the extent to which 
nondemocralic societies are doing this? Might it not be 
argued, therefore, that by raising the question of governabil- 
ity in relation to democracies, one is in fact raising the 
question of whether the power of government should be 
increased rather than the question of whether the power of 
government should be restored? Is it not misleading to imply 
that governments in democracies had all those powers in the 
past which are now demanded for them? Should we not 
perhaps check ourselves every now and then and remember 
that one of the things democracy is about is to enable people 
and groups to operate in what might be called a market 
environment rather than an environment which is largely 
determined by directives issuing from government and politi- 
cal institutions? 


In the "arenas for action"*, you find a number of 
remarkable statements about the relationship between de- 
mocracy and economic growth. "The promotion of economic 
growth, taking into careful consideration the effects of such 
growth on resource exhaustion and environmental pollution, 
consequently must have top priority on the agenda of 

* See Part A of this appendix. 

Appendix 189 

democracy. . . . Political democracy requires economic 
growth; economic growth . . . depends upon effective demo- 
cratic planning." Important, and, as you will admit, far-reach- 
ing statements. It is clearly desirable, at least that is my view, 
that economic growth should continue. Yet there may be a 
point in asking a number of questions in relation to these 
statements. And there may be a point in discussing them at 
some length. Why should it be so that democracy is to some 
extent dependent on economic growth? Is there anything in 
the concept of democracy that relates it to economic 
growth? Is democracy unthinkable without it? Is it actually 
true that those countries in which economic growth was least 
effective were also the countries in which democratic institu- 
tions were least effective? Could it not be said that it is the 
one-party socialist states above all which are in trouble 
without economic growth. Is not the link between the as- 
sumption of economic growth and political organization in 
fact much closer in the communist countries, and is that not 
one of the reasons why they are worried at a time when, for 
them, too, economic growth is by no means a certainty? 
Does not perhaps Mr. Brezhnev have much more reason to 
worry about the future of economic growth than Mr. Ford? I 
should have thought that it would be useful to examine these 
questions in the study, although I am not at all sure that I 
would be able to give a proper answer to them. If I were to 
try to give an answer, I would like to add another question 
which I believe is and should be of major concern for 
anybody who is thinking about the future of industrial 
societies under liberal conditions. Is growth presumably 
growth of a gross national product? Is this the only kind of 
expansion of human life chances which we can think of in 
free societies? Are there not perhaps other forms of growth 
and improvement of human lives? Is it really necessary to 
assume that we have to continue along the lines which have 
been characteristic for the last twenty-five years in order to 
maintain democratic institutions? The important and prima 
facie plausible statements about democracy and economic 

190 The Crisis of Democracy 

growth would warrant and perhaps require a rather more 
elaborate reasoning. 


My next point relates to governability more or less 
directly. The paper for discussion here is in my view an 
important and in many ways convincing analysis of a difficult 
and changing political, social, and economic situation. I 
would like to underline an aspect of the problem which I 
believe is of overriding importance. 

I start with three simple things— simple to put in words but 
much less simple to cope with in fact. First, there is a 
growing desire for more immediate participation on the part 
of many citizens in the developed countries, which confronts 
national governments with unfamiliar but extremely serious 
problems and makes it more difficult for them to give 
direction to developments in their countries. This is, of 
course, what Mr. Huntington in his chapter calls the 
democratic challenge to authority. It is a development which 
may be regarded as a natural consequence of the 
development of citizenship over the last century or two. This 
development of citizenship has led more and more people in 
local communities and industrial enterprises and other 
institutions to express a desire to be a part of the machinery 
of decision-making to a much greater extent than may have 
been the case in the past. And governments have in fact 
found it difficult to make decisions, even apparently simple 
decisions such as those about the sites of nuclear power 
stations. Participation is not merely the taking of 
responsibility but is very often an attempt to check 
government action or object to it. 

The second aspect is that for many important problems 
the national political space has become evidently and largely 
insufficient, although at the same time we do not have 
satisfactory institutions, let alone democratic ones, to cope 

Appendix 191 

with new problems as they arise in new, international 
political spaces. 

The third aspect is new for governments. Democratic 
governments find it difficult to cope with the power of 
extraparliamentary institutions which determine by their 
decisions the life chances of as many (or in some cases more) 
people as the decisions of governments can possibly 
determine in many of our countries. - Indeed, these 
extraparliamentary institutions often make governmental 
power look ridiculous. When I talk about extraparliamentary 
institutions, I am essentially thinking of two powerful 
economic institutions— giant companies and large and 
powerful trade unions. 

All three of these developments have a common 
denominator. The greater demand for participation, the 
removal of effective political spaces from the national to the 
international level, and the removal of the power to 
determine people's life chances from political institutions to 
other institutions are all signs of what might be called the 
dissolution, perhaps the dilution of the general political 
public which we assumed was the real basis of democratic 
institutions in the past. Instead of there being an effective 
political public in democratic countries from which 
representative institutions emerge and to which representa- 
tives are answerable, there is a fragmented public, in part a 
nonexistent public. There is a rather chaotic picture in the 
political communities of many democratic countries. A pub- 
lic of citizens who cast their votes from individual interests 
and thereby influence the choice of representatives who in 
turn feel their responsibility to an identified public has to 
some considerable extent disappeared. To that extent, repre- 
sentative government has become very different indeed from 
the sort of creature that was described in The Federalist 
papers, or by John Stuart Mill, or by many others before and 

I would argue that the main thing to think about is what 

192 The Qisis of Democracy 

we can do to reestablish an effective general political public 
under the changed conditions in which we are living today. 
One would have to discuss the ways in which the legitimate 
demand for immediate individual participation can be linked 
to national and international decisions. One would have to 
discuss what in this Commission has been called the 
renovation of the international system, not only in terms of 
the effectiveness of new international institutions but also in 
terms of their democratic quality. This would raise familiar 
and yet new problems of the relation between representation 
and expertise, between democratic election and knowledge of 
those standing for election. 

I am quite certain that a number of things must not 
happen if we want to reestablish an effective political public 
(or perhaps establish an effective political public for a very 
large number of citizens for the first time in the history of 
democratic countries). I for one believe that one of the things 
that must not happen under any condition is a deliberate 
policy of educational retrenchment— a policy in which 
educational institutions are once again linked to economic 
output and economic performance rather than to the need to 
give every individual a chance to take part in the political 
process. I also believe that one of the things that must not 
happen is that we establish any greater dependence of the 
media on governments. On the contrary, I believe that the 
media in most of our democratic societies are in need of 
protection. They are endangered by a number of processes, 
some of them economic. At the same time I believe they are 
some of the main media of expression for what is left of a 
general political public, and we should keep them that way. 

My main point here is that as we think about a political 
public in our day, we cannot simply think of a political 
public of individual citizens exercising their common sense 
interests on the marketplace, as it were. In rethinking the 
notion of the political public, we have to accept the fact that 
most human beings today are both individual citizens and 

Appendix 193 

members of large organizations. We have to accept the fact 
that most individuals see their interests cared for not only by 
an immediate expression of their citizenship rights (or even 
by political parties which organize groups of interests) but 
also by organizations which at this moment act outside the 
immediate political framework and which will continue to 
act whether governments like it or not. And I believe, 
therefore, somewhat reluctantly, that in thinking about the 
political public of tomorrow we shall have to think of a 
public in which representative parliamentary institutions are 
somehow linked with institutions which in themselves are 
neither representative nor parliamentary. I think it is useful 
to discuss the exact meaning of something like an effective 
social contract, or perhaps a "Concerted Action," or "Conseil 
Economique et Social" for the political insitutions of 
advanced democracies. I do not believe that free collective 
bargaining is an indispensable element of a free and 
democratic society. I do believe, however, that we have to 
recognize that people are organized in trade unions, that 
there are large enterprises, that economic interests have to be 
discussed somewhere, and that there has got to be a 
negotiation about some of the guidelines by which our 
economies are functioning. This discussion should be related 
to representative institutions. There may be a need for 
reconsidering some of our institutions in this light, not to 
convert our countries into corporate states, certainly not, but 
to convert them into countries which in a democratic fashion 
recognize some of the new developments which have made 
the effective political public so much less effective in recent 


I am not, contrary to many others today, pessimistic about 
the future of democracy. Indeed, it seems to me that a 
number of recent social developments are likely to make life 

194 The Crisis of Democracy 

much more difficult for the dictatorships of this world. Like 
many of you, however, I notice with dismay that it seems to 
be difficult, perhaps even impossible, to liberalize a 
dictatorship within a short period of time and convert it into 
a free and democratic country. There is a sad dialectic of 
dictatorships in which any attempt to liberalize them rapidly 
seems to lead to another kind of authoritarianism. 

I do think that in order for democracies to cope with the 
new types of problems with which they are faced, they have 
to avoid a number of mistakes. They must avoid the belief 
that the very progress which they made possible for a large 
number of citizens must now be undone because it feels 
uncomfortable for some. They have to avoid the belief that a 
little more unemployment, a little less education, a little 
more deliberate discipline, and a little less freedom of 
expression would make the world a better place, in which it 
is possible to govern effectively. Indeed, I think, this attempt 
to turn back the wheels of history to try to recreate the state 
which we have fortunately and deliberately left is in many 
ways as uncivilized, indeed primitive, as the belief that all we 
need is nationalized ownership, public planning, and worker 
control. Either- of these mistakes must be avoided if we hope 
to manage to create democratic conditions and maintain 
them, conditions which offer the largest number the largest 
chance for their lives. 

In my view, what we have to do above all is to maintain 
that flexibility of democratic institutions which is in some 
ways their greatest virtue: the ability of democratic 
institutions to implement and effect change without 
revolution— the ability to rethink assumptions— the ability to 
react to new problems in new ways— the ability to develop 
institutions rather than change them all the time— the ability 
to keep the lines of communication open between the leaders 
and the led-the ability to make individuals count above all. 

We talk about the Trilateral societies, and certainly they 
have a lot in common, but there are many differences 

Appendix 195 

between them also, and some have so far managed better 
than others to cope with the problems which I have 
indicated. I have to confess that at this time, at this time in 
particular, I belong to those who believe that it is the North 
American societies above all which have managed to maintain 
the kind of flexibility which holds out hope for democracy 


Discussion of the governability study in Kyoto opened 
with the above-printed comments of Ralf Dahrendorf, now 
Director of the London School of Economics. These com- 
ments were followed by remarks from each of the three 
authors. Michel Crozier reviewed the thrust of his chapter on 
Western Europe, including the judgment that democratic 
political systems in Europe are now the most vulnerable of 
those in the Trilateral regions. The West European democra- 
cies have to carry through "a basic mutation in their model 
of government and their mode of social control while facing 
at the same time a crisis from within and a crisis from 
without." Samuel P. Huntington responded to some of 
Dahrendorf s comments. Dahrendorf had raised the issue of 
somehow linking to parliamentary institutions such major 
extraparliamentary institutions as large labor unions and 
business organizations. Huntington expressed surprise that 
there was no mention in this analysis of political parties as 
aggregators of the interests of extraparliamentary organiza- 
tions. On the matter of democracy and economic growth, 
Huntington noted that the rather steady growth of the last 
twenty-five years has created expectations of continuing 
growth, a growth which cannot now be assumed. This is 
likely to create problems. As for the effects of international 
developments, Huntington stressed that detente has had 
negative implications for the cohesion of Trilateral societies. 
He argued that the growing importance and visibility on the 

196 The Crisis of Democracy 

foreign policy agenda of international economic issues and 
interdependence has involved problems for democratic gov- 
ernments, sensitive to domestic interests. Reaching for an 
overall formulation of the governability question, Huntington 
asked if there are inherently destabilizing forces at work in 
democratic political systems or whether self-stabilizing, "gy- 
roscope" effects predominate. One could elaborate an "op- 
timistic scenario" based on the flexibility and openness of 
democratic systems, but one could also elaborate a "pessi- 
mistic scenario" of self-destructive tendencies and a mount- 
ing accumulation of demands. We need to take advantage of 
the self-correcting opportunities that do exist. In his intro- 
ductory remarks, Joji Watanuki noted that rapid growth in 
Japan has brought automatic large increases in government 
revenues. This has greatly helped the government meet rising 
demands. If there is a revenue shrinkage, a "higher degree of 
governability" would be required to see the society through 
the necessary adaptations. 

In the discussion which followed the introductory remarks 
of Dahrendorf and the three authors, the United States 
chapter aroused particularly lively discussion. The Founding 
Fathers of the United States, one North American 
Commissioner stated, did not see their first problem as that 
of creating a governable democracy. At least as important in 
their minds was the guaranteeing of the rights of citizens 
against the possible excesses of their governors. This Commis- 
sioner is particularly impressed after the Watergate episode 
with the wisdom of an emphasis on the protection of rights. 
The study should emphasize the vitality of American demo- 
cratic institutions, particularly the press, the Congress, and 
the courts. The authors, he stated, need to balance their 
focus on governability with an equal concern for protection 
of the rights of citizens. Another Commissioner concurred, 
suggesting it might be more appropriate to examine the 
"excesses" of the "governors" than those of the governed. 
Another participant traced problems in the United States 

Appendix 197 

more to the failure of leadership than a "democratic surge." 
He argued that the decline of political parties is related to the 
growth of government bureaucracies, which are to some 
extent substituting for parties. More attention should be 
given to the problems of big bureaucracy for democracy. This 
Commissioner stated that it is "simply not true" that the press 
is automatically in opposition to the government in the 
United States. Congress is not always in opposition either, 
even though in the last eight years Congress has been under 
control of the other party, with no obligation to back the 
President. Some of the remedies outlined in the "arenas for 
action," this member concluded, would be "wrong, self- 
defeating, deadly."" According to another North' American 
Commissioner, who disagreed that the need is for "less 
democracy," the current relative deadlock in U.S. politics is 
not unique. Contrary to the pessimists, he feels recent 
developments indicate "triumph" and a "finest hour" for 
American democracy. The disenchantment of the American 
public comes from the poor performance of the government, 
lurching from crisis to crisis. The country needs more 
appropriate planning, carried on in such a way that the 
people are involved in helping to set goals. This is a preferred 
alternative to some kind of technocratic elite model for 
progress. A number of other Commissioners also associated 
themselves in general with the above points, arguing for 
"more democracy, not less" and expressing particular con- 
cern for maintenance of "absolutely free new media." One 
participant saw the Constitution and system of law in the 
United States as the principal "self-correcting" mechanism 

A Canadian Commissioner argued the unhealthiness for 
Canada of a recommendation for reinvigoration of political 
parties. Parties are ways to control members, he stated. They 
alienate more capable young politicians and favor 
conformists. Issues are considered less on their merits than 
they should be. In Canada, this Commissioner stressed, we 

198 The Crisis of Democracy 

need institutions to "blue" and "mute" parties. Parliamen- 
tary committees are important here and should be strength- 
ened. The reinvigoration we should seek is of parliamentary 
institutions, with decision-making done publicly to the great- 
est extent possible. This Commissioner was also troubled by 
the recommendations on the media in the "arenas for 
action." The press needs strengthening and protection. In 
Canada, it has been more effective in opposing the govern- 
ment than the Opposition party. The Opposition gathers 
information from the press and uses the press to make its 
views known. These are very valuable functions. 

Later in the discussion, Huntington responded to critics of 
the chapter on the United States. As for the views of the 
Founding Fathers, Huntington quoted from a well-known 
contribution of James Madison to The Federalist. Madison 
states that the "first" problem is to "enable the government 
to control the governed," and then to "oblige it to control 
itself." Comments in the discussion had suggested, 
Huntington stated, that this "balance" is now tilted toward 
government and not the citizens; but never before in 
American history, he argued, have citizens and citizen 
organizations been more assertive and effective. Huntington 
put much emphasis on the "balance" idea, and argued there 
had been a shift against government authority which should 
not be allowed to go too far. On the media, he stressed that 
their power has undeniably increased, and that this must be 
taken into account in our analysis. The comments made on 
the press in Canada, he added, also applied in the United 
States and indicate the power of the media. In conclusion, 
Huntington asked the two questions he thought most essen- 
tial. First, where is the proper place to draw the balance? 
Second, what is the state of the balance in the United States 
now? Huntington sees overwhelming evidence that the bal- 
ance has shifted away from government. 

A European Commissioner underlined the weakness of 
constitutional systems in some European countries, particu- 

Appendix 199 

larly those whose electoral systems encourage a multiplicity 
of parties without this being counter-balanced by a strong 
executive. He mentioned Denmark, Holland, and Belgium. 
These countries might usefully learn from or perhaps adapt 
constitutional features of other states like France, Western 
Germany or Britain, particularly for restoring executive 
power and gaining "a new lease on life" for their democratic 
systems without loss of liberties. This Commissioner realized 
that systems for constitutional amendment were very diffi- 
cult in the countries requiring change, but the effort should 
be made. In closing, he expressed "anguish" and "despair" 
that European unification has not made more progress, 
progress essential for democracy's future in Europe. Another 
European Commissioner recalled Dahrendorfs comments 
about the insufficiency of national political space. Among 
the Trilateral regions, this is more true in Europe and Japan 
than in North America, he stated. In Europe in particular the 
adequacy of national political space is very much in question. 

Another European Commissioner noted that in most 
Western European countries there is not a chance that 
communist parties will come to power. France and Italy are 
important exceptions. Change there would "create waves." It 
would erode the Community and Atlantic Alliance. On 
Britain, this Commissioner emphasized its remarkable 
democratic resilience and political resources. Another 
Commissioner concurred, terming comments about the 
"ungovernability" of Britain "completely nonsense." He 
noted that Britain had been an industrial society much longer 
than other states and was thus far ahead of the others in the 
problems it now faces. 

The future of the Communist party in Italy was raised by 
another European Commissioner later in the discussion. This 
was already the largest Communist party in Europe in the 
years just after the war. Its election advances since then have 
actually been quite limited, this Commissioner stated. When 
the Communist party moves toward power in Italy, there is 

200 The Crisis of Democracy 

an "allergic reaction" from the others which keeps the party 
out of power. This Commissioner noted the municipal and 
regional elections coming up in Italy on June 15. He thought 
the events in Portugal would help the democratic parties. 
Further European integration would also help keep the 
Communist party in check. 

One Commissioner noted that he found Dahrendorfs 
comments "heartening," though they presented him with the 
"eternal liberal dilemma"— protection of rights is not possible 
without effective government. He noted the success of 
"codetermination" in Germany as an effective way to 
stabilize a system under stress. Another Commissioner added 
two points "related" to governability concerns. For one, 
democratic governments are run by politicians who make 
decisions for political reasons. This is a fact of life. Second, 
governments have assumed they could do the politically 
attractive thing for the majority and the minority would pay. 
Another European Commissioner cautioned that there be 
"clear-cut responsiblity" in any arrangements that would link 
powerful extraparliamentary institutions to parliaments, an 
issue raised by Dahrendorf. 

The chapter on Japan is the most optimistic of the regional 
chapters, one North American Commissioner noted. Japan 
has not lost the ability to achieve a consensus and act on it, 
he stated. This may be attributable to a real difference in 
values, including greater identification with the group. The 
drive for individual satisfaction must be balanced with such 
concern for the group. 

One Japanese Commissioner related the cohesive strength 
of the Japanese political system to the high quality of 
middle-level leadership in the country, those in contact with 
the people. This appears to be somewhat in decline, however. 
With the growth of the mass media, people have less need for 
these middle-level leaders in interpreting events and making 
their views known. This also hurts the organization of 
political parties. As the middle level has less political 
responsibility, its quality will decline. 

Appendix 201 

This Commissioner sees some of the recent social problems 
of the Trilateral regions related to a temporary shift in the 
population structure, with an extraordinarily large number of 
younger people, with different values. As this bulge in the 
population structure moves on, problems will become less 

Another Japanese Commissioner recalled a statement of 
Lenin's that a revolution cannot be initiated by demands 
from below, but only when the governing classes are divided 
and dissatisfied. One might argue that governing classes are 
now in this condition. This Commissioner pointed to three 
weaknesses of democracy. For one, human beings are weak. 
In a monopoly position they will wield excessive power. He 
mentioned the press in Japan, whose decisions are sometimes 
more important than the government's, and also associations 
like the medical association, which is in a monopoly position, 
with the tax system rigged in its favor. The Diet is not doing 
much about these powerful organizations. Second, Japanese 
intellectuals and students are being attracted by radicalism. If 
these fill the middle level of leadership later, Japan may be 
turning a corner toward a worse situation. Third, it seems 
that opportunists are the ones who gain and hold political 
power. Tolerant individuals generally do not. 

Another Japanese Commissioner emphasized that 
democracy in Japan is working rather well. He noted that at 
all levels there are about 80,000 elected political leaders 
throughout the country. Certainly there are some 
governability problems. This Commissioner mentioned the 
controversy over the Japanese nuclear ship which drifted in 
the Pacific for some fifty days in August and September of 
1974, having been refused port facilities by local communi- 
ties. He mentioned the railway unions, which must be 
confronted. He noted the current dispute about the Constitu- 
tion centering on Minister Inaba, which held up Diet delibera- 
tions on other matters for a week. He mentioned uncertain- 
ties about the U.S. commitment in Korea after recent events 
in Indochina, and uncertainty about whether the Japan 

202 The Crisis of Democracy 

Communist party could be excluded from a coalition formed 
when the LDP majority disappears. These matters add ele- 
ments of pessimism. 

Another Japanese Commissioner also related international 
issues to governability concerns. The world is searching for a 
new system, he stated, and needs strong leadership in various 
countries. Governability, however, is in decline. Even in 
Japan, the government does not have much room to 
maneuver. In the long term this Commissioner was optimistic 
about Japanese democracy, but can we wait for its problems 
to be solved? On the U.S.— Japanese relationship after the 
Indochina war, Japan is not apprehensive about the 
administration, but rather about Congress. Is the President in 
control? Is there a trend in the United States toward 

Looking over the whole discussion, one North American 
Commissioner related it to discussion the previous day of 
resources and global redistribution of power. He put it all in 
the framework of "the central issue for the industrial 
democracies," namely the "apparent conflict between equity 
and effectiveness." With regard to developing countries, the 
main issue is that of equity, but "one can have no more 
equity than one can afford." And the wealth of the 
developed world, he argued, should not be too narrowly 
construed. It is "not especially physical resources but rather 
the complex of spiritual, governmental, and political 
(capabilities), the way in which (the people) manage to 
attack and solve their problems." We see this most clearly in 
the case of Japan, this Commissioner argued, which is 
relatively "resource-less" in a physical sense. What could one 
take away from Japan? What is its wealth? What is it except a 
complex of going institutions? 

Another participant returned to the issue raised by 
Dahrendorf of somehow associating nonparliamentary groups 
with the parliamentary process. It was suggested this might 
be seen in relation to international institutions, not just 

Appendix 203 

national political systems. This participant sees underway a 
"partial domestication of international society," with many 
domestic problems of the nineteenth century finding their 
analogs in international problems of the twentieth century. 
"Partly civilianized international relations" must not become 
so turbulent that we lose societal openness and freedom 
while trying to achieve the equity that is necessary. The 
Trilateral region, he argued, is a "vital core" in this effort. 

A number of Commissioners emphasized the importance 
of the issues being raised in the study and discussion and 
hoped the Commission would continue work in this general 
area. One Commissioner expressed his support "very 
concretely" for the proposed institute for the strengthening 
of democratic institutions. 


Discussion in Montreal, May 16, 1975 

The rapporteurs of the Trilateral Commission Task Force 
on the Governability of Democracies identified common 
"governability" problems in the three regions. These have 
been viewed as stemming from such factors as the "changing 
democratic context," the rise of "anomic democracy," vari- 
ous democratic "dysfunctions," the "delegitimization" of 
authority, "system overload," the "disaggregation" of inter- 
ests, and an increasing parochialism in international affairs. 

Detailed background papers underlined the problems pe- 
culiar to Europe, Japan, and the United States in the area of 
governability. To explore the Canadian scene, a colloquium 
sponsored by the Canadian Group of the Trilateral Commis- 
sion brought together in May 1975 approximately thirty 
Canadians involved in both the analysis and the practice of 
government. Several of the Commission'? Task Force mem- 
bers were on hand. 

204 The Crisis of Democracy 

The participants identified particular Canadian 
perspectives on governability and, in dialogue with the Tri- 
lateral Task Force members, drew out significant compari- 
sons and contrasts in the experiences of Canada, the United 
States, and to some extent the other Trilateral regions. 

Discussion was conducted around four major issue-areas: 
the problem of governability; social, economic and cultural 
causes; components of stability; and domestic and foreign 
implications. Several major themes emerged from the dis- 
cussion, treated in the following short report on the pro- 

A. The Canadian Governability "Challenge" 

Despite the numerous problems and strains that were 
identified with regard to Canadian institutions and values, a 
general consensus emerged that Canada's governability prob- 
lems were not insoluble and that, indeed, "governability" 
itself may be less of a problem than the "reality of participa- 
tion," the "accountability of governors," or as one partici- 
pant put it, "the democratizability of governments." 

Some felt that accountability was the real issue, both in 
the context of governmental decison-making and from the 
point of view of expanding participation in decision-making 
by such groups as organized labour. 

While Canada shares with the United States some major 
governability "challenges" (rather than necessarily 
"problems"), that is, an overload of demands on the political 
system, a decline in traditional attitudes to authority, 
changing social values, increasing "dehumanization" of so- 
ciety, and labour/management conflicts, to name a few, these 
challenges do not appear to have attained the serious 
proportions they are said to have reached in the United 
States. A few of the differentiating factors mentioned were 
the racial problem in the United States, more extensive urban 
problems, and domestic disillusionment engendered by the 
decline of the leadership role of the United States in world 

Appendix 205 

affairs. Such phenomena as Vietnam and Watergate could be 
seen as special focal points of long-term trends. 

There remained a rather clear division of opinion among 
the participants as to whether or not there was evidence of 
"ungovernability" or a trend toward it in Canada. 

B. System Overload 

It was argued by some that the growing tendencies of 
students and workers to challenge authority and the new 
vigour of union demands may even be seen as healthy 
democratic phenomena and may be heralding the end of a 
period of "pseudo-democracy," providing the first real 
atternpt at genuine and comprehensive democracy. However, 
some of those who tended to regard Canadian democracy as 
becoming increasingly ungovernable viewed these trends as 
increasing the overload of demands on decision-making 
institutions, thereby decreasing their capacity to sort out 
priorities, and as a part of the general decline of a coherent 
"public philosophy." One of the roots of disturbing trends 
on the labour front in Canada was identified as the fact that 
unions have generally not been brought in a real way into the 
decision-making process and are often treated implicitly as 
"outlaws." Such an attitude can only influence relations 
between organized labour and the broader society in a 
negative way. 

Another speaker asserted that "system overload" in 
Canada is a "fantasy," that the functioning of the system had 
not changed and the structure was basically intact, for better 
or for worse. Others expressed sympathy for the conditions 
in which contemporary politicians operate and claimed that 
there was strong evidence for the case that too much was 
asked of them. A major criticism of the operation of 
democratic governments was their inability to sort out 
priorities in the face of increasing demands and their 
consequent resort to incrementalism (extension of existing 
programs) rather than creative policy-making. 

206 The Crisis of Democracy 

One or two participants suggested that the whole discussion 
of governability distorted the real problems and was of 
concern only to an elite uneasy about its declining position in 
society! They maintained that factors such as rising inflation 
and the growth of public expenditure as a percentage of GNP 
(which were seen by some as causes or effects of 
governability problems) had nothing to do with governability 
and may, in fact, have produced more "positive" benefits by 
forcing better income distribution, via the "catch up" of 
wages and social welfare benefits. 

C. Institutions 

Canadian institutions (federalism, the parliamentary 
system, the public service, the media) were identified as 
distinctive and received particular attention by the 
participants. Were they a protection against or a cause of 
greater governability problems? 

It was pointed out that the expansion and proliferation of 
bureaucracy at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels 
has contributed to the strains on the Canadian political 
system because of diminishing clarity of direction and 
accountability. There is a growing tendency, it was said, for 
the bureaucracy to take over roles which were traditionally 
the essential domain of the politicians— such as defining the 
"public good." This could be regarded as a dangerous 
development, particularly in light of the tendency of the 
federal bureaucracy to become "Ottawa-centered" and not 
properly representative of the regions of Canada. 

There was a general consensus that more emphasis should 
be placed on the democratically-derived institutions. It was 
recommended that the House of Commons be enlarged to 
provide better constituency representation and that its pro- 
cedures be modernized to facilitate the handling of public 
business. The so-called "decline of Parliament" was seen as 
due, in part, to the growing importance of federal-provincial 
relations in the face of the increasing power of the provinces. 

Appendix 207 

Effective opposition comes from the provinces rather than 
the federal opposition parties, possibly attributable to the 
situation of one-party dominance in Ottawa. 

American participants concluded from the discussion that 
the Canadian brand of federalism— in its maintenance of 
a relative greater degree of decentralization— was a "highly 
desirable situation." Despite equally impenetrable provincial 
bureaucracies and the bargaining problems engendered by the 
equality ascribed to federal and provincial governments, it 
was convincingly argued by Canadians that governability 
problems were reduced by the flexibility built into the 
Canadian style of federal structure and parliamentary system. 

It was noted" that in Canada, as in the United States, a 
certain trend toward fragmentation and regionalization of 
political parties could be observed, but there was no indica- 
tion that there is anything in Canada approaching what had 
been called by American analysts "the decline of the party 
system" in the United States. It was held, however, by some 
participant noted that the governing Liberal caucus, dominated 
by "ministerialists," is consequently not sufficiently con- 
representation in all major areas of the country. This ten- 
dency toward decentralization was seen by others not only as 
inevitable but as desirable, as parties would presumably 
become more constituency- and region-oriented which would 
offset bureaucratization among elected representatives. One 
participant noted that the governing Liberal caucus, dominat- 
ed by "ministerialists," is consequently not sufficiently con- 
stituency-oriented. Another suggested that existing Canadian 
political parties fulfilled an important role by effecting 
trade-offs in nonideological terms. 

D. Rhetoric/Performance Gap 

Another major theme emerging from the discussion was 
the problem of the gap between rhetoric and performance in 
government. Two views, whose consequences are perhaps 

208 The Crisis of Democracy 

equally damaging if true, emerged on this issue: (1) that 
people tend to ignore or disbelieve the rhetoric and 
consequently lose their faith in the system and refuse to 
participate (identified as an "apathy of despair"); and (2) 
that, as a result of government rhetoric, expectations are 
raised to a point of no possible return or satisfaction, 
especially in regard to the allocation of benefits among 
individuals and groups. 

E. Decline of a "Public Philosophy" 

Labour groups are not impeded, it was said, from making 
outrageous demands due to the absence of a strong public 
philosophy and to prevalent doubt as to whether fairness 
underlies the general allocation of influence and resources. 
The decline in "community" and a dehumanization of society 
result in the aggressive self-assertion of the individual or 
groups. In the absence of a national ethos, governments are 
hamstrung in their efforts to cope with such prevalent diffi- 
culties as inflation and labour/management disputes. This 
phenomenon of declining cohesive values appears to be com- 
mon to both Canada and the United States. 

F. Communications and Governability 

Finally, the theme of communications was identified as 
both a cause and a result of the problems of governability. It 
was noted, even by journalists, that the press tends to provide 
short-term, personalized, sensationalist pictures of political 
events, thereby widening the rhetoric/performance gap. It 
was suggested that a strengthened periodical press is needed 
to give more long-term perspective on events, trends, and 

Poverty of communication both within governments and 
between governments and other sectors was also identified as 
a governability problem. This was seen as resulting in a 

Appendix 209 

serious lack of knowledge as to how "the other side" takes 
decisions, which tends to hamper desirable constructive 
bargaining within the industry-government-labour triangle. It 
was also suggested that parliament's capacity to achieve a 
mediating function has decreased due to partisan factionalism 
and its diminishing power over the bureaucracy. 

G. Possible Conclusions 

As identified by this colloquium, Canada's foremost- 
governability problems can be regarded as falling within four 
major areas: the questionable ability of the evolving political 
institutions to aggregate an increasing volume of demands 
efficiently and at the same time to retain their accountability 
to the public; the increasing rhetoric/performance gap; the 
decline of a "public philosophy"; and the problem of 
communications. Several characteristics of the Canadian sys- 
tem were found actually to enhance Canada's governability, 
that is, its parliamentary and federal structures of govern- 
ment, a reasonable degree of decentralization of authority 
and the absence of class-based political parties. However, a 
general consensus emerged that Canada's governability prob- 
lems (as redefined) while not insoluble are real and deserve 
urgent attention and remedial action. 


Doris Anderson, Editor, Chatelaine Magazine 

Frances Bairstow, Director, Industrial Relations Center, 

McGill University 
Carl Beigie, Executive Director, C. D. Howe Research 

Pierre Benoit, Journalist, Broadcaster, Former Mayor of 


210 The Crisis of Democracy 

Marvin Blauer, Special Assistant to the Premier of Manitoba 
Robert Bowie, Professor of International Affairs, Harvard 

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Director, The Trilateral Commission 

Stephen Clarkson, Professor of Political Science, University 

of Toronto 
Tim Creery, Editor, The Gazette, Montreal 
Peter Dobell, Director, Parliamentary Centre for Foreign 

A "fairs f nd Foreign Trade 
Gordon Fairweather, Member of Parliament 
Francis Fox, Member of Parliament 
Donald Fraser, United States Congress 
Richard Gwyn, Ottawa Correspondent, Toronto Star 
Reeves Haggan, Assistant Deputy Minister, Solicitor General 

Samuel P. Huntington, Professor of Government, Harvard 


Robert Jackson, Professor of Political Science, Carleton 

Pierre Juneau, Chairman, Canadian Radio-Television 

Michael Kirby, Assistant Principal Secretary, Office of the 

Prime Minister 
Gilles Lalande, Professor of Political Science, University of 

Claude Lemelin, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State 

for External Affairs 
Vincent Lemieux, Professor of Political Science, Laval 

Claude Masson, Vice-Dean of Research, Laval University 
John Meisel, Professor of Political Science, Queen's 

Geoffrey Pearson, Chairman, Policy Analysis Group, 

Department of External Affairs 
Jean-Luc Pepin, Co-ordinator, Canadian Group, the Trilateral 

Commission; President, Interimco Limited 

Appendix 211 

Simon Reisman, Chairman, Reisman and Grandy Limited 
Donald Rickerd, President, The Donner Canadian 

Claude Ryan, Editor, Le Devoir, Montreal 
Garth Steyenson, Professor of Political Science, Carleton 

Dale Thomson, Vice-Principal (Planning), McGill University 

A The Triangle Papers 


The Crisis of Democracy is one of a series of reports of task forces 

of the Trilateral Commission. The preceding reports, all published 

by the Commission itself, are listed below. 

1. Towards a Renovated World Monetary System (1973) 

Trilateral Monetary Task Force 

Rapporteurs: Richard N. Cooper, Motoo Kaji, Claudio Segre 

2. The Crisis of International Cooperation (1973) 

Trilateral Political Task Force 

Rapporteurs: Francois Duchene, Kinhide Mushakoji, Henry 

D. Owen 

3. A Turning Point in North-South Economic Relations (1974) 

Trilateral Task Force on Relations with Developing Countries 
Rapporteurs: Richard N. Gardner, Saburo Okita, B. J. Udink 

4. Directions for World Trade in the Nineteen-Seventies (1974) 

Trilateral Task Force on Trade 

Rapporteurs: Guido Colonna di Paliano, Philip H. Trezise, 

Nobuhiko Ushiba 

5. Energy: The Imperative for a Trilateral Approach (1974) 

Trilateral Task Force on the Political and International 

Implications of the Energy Crisis 

Rapporteurs: John C. Campbell, Guy de Carmoy, Shinichi 


6. Energy: A Strategy for International Action (1974) 

Trilateral Task Force on the Political and International 

Implications of the Energy Crisis 

Rapporteurs: John C. Campbell, Guy de Carmoy, Shinichi 


7. OPEC, the Trilateral World, and the Developing Countries: New 
Arrangements for Cooperation, 1976-1980 (1975) 

Trilateral Task Force on Relations with Developing Countries 
Rapporteurs: Richard N. Gardner, Saburo Okita, B.J. Udink 


(As of August 15,1975) 


North American Chairman 


Deputy Director 

European Chairman 

European Deputy Chairman 

Japanese Chairman 

North American Secretary 

Japanese Secretary 

North American Members 

*I. W. Abel, President, United Steelworkers of America 

David M. Abshire, Chairman, Georgetown University Center for Strategic and 
International Studies 

Graham Allison, Professor of Politics, Harvard University 

Doris Anderson, Editor, Chatelaine Magazine 

John B. Anderson, House of Representatives 

Ernest C. Arbuckle, Chairman, Wells Fargo Bank 

J. Paul Austin, Chairman, The Coca-Cola Company 

George W. Ball, Senior Partner, Lehman Brothers 

Russell Bell, Research Director, Canadian Labour Congress 

Lucy Wilson Benson, Former President, League of Women Voters of the 
United States 

W. Michael Blumenthal, Chairman, Bendix Corporation 
•Robert W. Bonner, Q.C., Bonner & Fouks, Vancouver 

Robert R. Bowie, Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs, 
Harvard University 

John Brademas, House of Representatives 
*Harold Brown, President, California Institute of Technology 

James E. Carter, Jr., Former Governor of Georgia 

Lawton Chiles, United States Senate 

Warren Christopher, Partner, O 'Melveny & Myers 

Alden W. Clausen, President, Bank of America 
tWilliam T. Coleman, Jr., Secretary, Department of Transportation 

Barber B. Conable, Jr., House of Representatives 

Richard N. Cooper, Frank Altschul Professor of International Economics, 
Yale University 

John C. Culver, United States Senate 

Gerald L. Curtis, Director, East Asian Institute, Columbia University 

Lloyd N. Cutler, Partner, Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering 

Archibald K. Davis, Chairman, Wachovia Bank & Trust Company 

Emmett Dedmon, Vice President and Editorial Director, Field Enterprises, Inc. 

Louis A. Desrochers, Partner, McCuaig and Desrochers 


Peter Dobell, Director, Parliamentary Center for Foreign Affairs and Foreign 

Hedley Donovan, Editor-in-Chief, Time, Inc. 

Daniel J. Evans, Governor of Washington 

Gordon Fairweather, Member of Parliament 

Donald M. Fraser, House of Representatives 

Richard N. Gardner, Henry L. Moses Professor of Law and International 

Organization, Columbia University 
*Patrick E. Haggerty, Chairman, Texas Instruments 

William A. Hewitt, Chairman, Deere & Company 

Alan Hockin, Executive Vice President, Toronto-Dominion Bank 

Richard Holbrooke, Managing Editor, Foreign Policy Magazine 

Thomas L. Hughes, President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 

J. K. Jamieson, Chairman, Exxon Corporation 

Lane Kirkland, Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO 

Sol M. Linowitz, Senior Partner, Coudert Brothers 

Bruce K. MacLaury , President, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis 

Claude Masson, Professor of Economics, Laval University 

Paul W. McCracken, Edmund Ezra Day Professor of Business Administration, 
University of Michigan 

Walter F. Mondale, United States Senate 

Lee L. Morgan, President > Caterpillar Tractor Company 

Kenneth D. Naden, President, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives 

Henry D. Owen, Director, Foreign Policy Studies Program, The Brookings 

David Packard, Chairman, Hewlett-Packard Company 
*Jean-Luc Pepin, ?.C, President, Interimco, Ltd. 

John H. Perkins, President, Continental Illinois National Bank & Trust Company 

Peter G. Peterson, Chairman, Lehman Brothers 
*Edwin 0. Reischauer, University Professor, Harvard University; former U.S. 

Ambassador to Japan 
t Elliot L. Richardson, United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom 
*David Rockefeller, Chairman, Chase Manhattan Bank 

Robert V. Roosa, Partner, Brown Bros., Harriman & Company 
♦William M. Roth, Roth Properties 

William V. Roth, Jr., United States Senate 

Carl T. Rowan, Columnist 

*William W. Scranton, Former Governor of Pennsylvania 
*Gerard C. Smith, Counsel, Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering 

Anthony Solomon, Consultant 

Robert Taft, Jr., United States Senate 

Arthur R. Taylor, President, Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. 

Cyrus R. Vance, Partner, Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett 
*Paul C. Warnke, Partner, Clifford, Warnke, Glass, Mcllwain & Finney 

Marina von N. Whitman, Distinguished Public Service Professor of Economics, 
University of Pittsburgh 

Carroll L. Wilson, Professor of Management, Alfred P. Sloan School of 
Management, MIT 

Arthur M. Wood, Chairman, Sears, Roebuck & Company 

Leonard Woodcock, President, United Automobile Workers 

•Executive Committee 
tCurrently in Government Service 


European Members 

♦Giovanni Agnelli, President, FIAT, Ltd. 
Raymond Barre, Former Vice President oj the Commission of the 

European Community 
Piero Bassetti,-President of the Regional Government ofLombardy 
♦Georges Berthoin, Former Chief Representative of the Commission 

of the European Community to the U.K. 
♦Kurt Birrenbach, Member of the Bundestag; President, Thyssen 

Franco Bobba, Company Director, Turin 
Frederick Boland, Chancellor, Dublin University; former President 

of the United Nations General Assembly 
Rene Bonety, Representant de la CFDT 
Jean-Claude Casanova, Director of Studies, Foundation Nationale des 

Sciences Politiques, Paris 
Umberto Colombo, Director of the. Committee for Scientific Policy, OECD 
Guido Colonna di Paliano,iVes/rfe/ir, La Rinascente; former member of 

the Commission of the European Community 
♦Francesco Compagna, Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of the Mezzogiorno 
The Earl of Cromer, Former British Ambassador to the United States; 

Partner, Baring Bros, and Co., Ltd. 
Michel Debatisse, President de la F.N.S.EA. 
♦Paul Delouvrier, Chairman, French Electricity Board 
Barry Desmond, Member of the Lower House of the Irish Republic 
Fritz Dietz, President, German Association for Wholesale and Foreign Trade 
Werner Dollinger, Member of the Bundestag 
♦Herbert Ehrenberg, Member of the Bundestag 
Pierre Esteva, Directeur General de I'U.A.P. 

♦Marc Eyskens, Commissary General of the Catholic University of Louvain 
M. H. Fisher, Editor, Financial Times 

Francesco Forte, Professor of Financial Sciences, University of Turin 
Jacques de Fouchier, President, Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas • 

Michel Gaudet, President de la Federation Francaise des Assurances 
Sir Reay Geddes, Chairman, Dunlop Holdings, Ltd. 
Giuseppe Glisenti, Director of General Affairs, La Rinascente 
Lord Harlech, Former British Ambassador to the United States; Chairman, 

Harlech Television 
Karl Hauenschild, President, German Chemical-Paper-Ceramics Workers' Union 
Jozef P. Houthuys, President, Belgian Confederation of Christian Trade Unions 
Daniel E. Janssen, Deputy Director General, Belgian Chemical Union, Ltd. 
Pierre Jouven, President de Pechiney Ugine Kuhlmann 
Karl Kaiser, Director of the Research Institute of the German Society for 

Foreign Policy 
Michael Killeen, Managing Director, Industrial Development Authority, 

Irish Republic 
Andre Kloos, Chairman of the Socialist radio and television network "V.A.R.A. "; 
former chairman of the Dutch Trade Union Federation 
♦Max Kohnstamm, /Yes/den f, European Community Institute for University Studies 
Baron Le"on Lambert, President, Banque Lambert, Brussels 
Count Otto Lambsdorff, Member of the Bundestag 
Arrigo Levi, Director, La Stampa, Turin 


Eugen Loderer, President, German Metal Workers ' Union 
*John Loudon, Chairman, Royal Dutch Petroleum Company 
Evan Luard, Member of Parliament 
Robert Marjolin, Former Vice President of the Commission of the European 

Roger Martin, President de la Ge Saint-Gobain-Pont-a-Mousson 
Reginald Maudling, Member of Parliament; former Cabinet Minister 

F. S. McFadzean, Managing Director, Royal Dutch Shell Group 
Cesare Merlini, Director, Italian Institute for International Affairs 
Alwin Munchmeyer, President, German Banking Federation 

tlvar Nfcrgaard, Minister of Foreign Economic Affairs and Nordic Affairs, Denmark 
Michael O'Kennedy , Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, Irish Republic; 

former Cabinet Minister 
Bernard Pagezy , President Directeur General de la Patemelle- Vie 
Pierre Pescatore, Luxembourg; Member of the European Court of Justice 
Sir John Pilcher, Former British Ambassador to Japan 
Jean Rey, Former President of the Commission of the European Community 
Julian Ridsdaie,Member of Parliament; Chairman of the Anglo-Japanese 

Parliament Group 
Sir Frank K. Roberts, Advisory Director of Unilever, Ltd.; Advisor on 

International Affairs to Lloyds of London 
*Mary T. W. Robinson, Member of the Senate of the Irish Republic 
Sir Eric Roll, Executive Director, S. G. Warburg and Company 
Edmond de Rothschild, President de la Compagnie Financiere Holding 
John Christian Sannes, Director, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs 
Gerhard Schroder, Member of the Bundestag; former Foreign Minister of the 

Federal Republic of Germany 
Roger Seydoux, Ambassador of France 

Andrew Shonfield, Director, The Royal Institute of International Affairs 
Hans-Gunther Sohl, President, Federal Union of German Industry ; President of the 

Board of Directors of August Thyssen Hiitte A.G. 
Theo Sommer, Editor-in-Chief Die Zeit 

Myles Staunton, Member of the Lower House of the Irish Republic 
Thorvald Stoltenberg, International Affairs Secretary, Norwegian Trade Union 


G. R. Storry, St. Antony 's College, Oxford (Far East Centre) 
J. A. Swire, Chairman, John Swire and Sons, Ltd. 

*Otto Grieg Tidemand, Shipowner; former Norwegian Minister of Defense and 
Minister of Economic Affairs 
A. F. Tuke, Chairman, Barclays Bank International 
Heinz-Oskar Vetter, Chairman, German Federation of Trade Unions 
iMcVizuttn, President, Kredietbank, Brussels 

Otto Wolff von Amerongen, President, Otto Wolff A.G.; President, German 
Chamber of Commerce 
*Sir Kenneth Younger, Former Director of the Royal Institute of International 

Affairs; former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs 
*Sir Philip de Zulueta, Chief Executive, Antony Gibbs Holdings, Ltd.; former 
Chief Assistant to the British Prime Minister 

•Executive Committee 
•(•Currently in Government Service 


Japanese Members 

Isao Amagi, Director, Japan Scholarship Foundation; former Vice Minister 
of Education 

Yoshiya Ariyoshi, Chairman, Nippon Yusen Kaisha 

Yoshishige Ashihara, Chairman, Kansai Electric Power Company, Inc. 

Toshio Doko, President, Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) 

Jun Eto, Professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology 

Shinkichi Eto, Professor of International Relations, Tokyo University 
*Chujiro Fujino, Chairman, Mitsubishi Corporation 

Shihtaro Fukushima, President, Kyodo News Service 

Noboru Gotoh, President, TOKYU Corporation 

Toru Hagjwara, Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; former Ambassador 
to France 

Sumio Hara, Chairman, Bank of Tokyo, Ltd. 

*Yukitaka Haraguchi, Chairman, All Japan Federation of Metal and Mining 
Industries Labor Unions 

Norishige Hasegawa, President, Sumitomo Chemical Company, Ltd. 
* Yoshio Hayashi, Member of~the Diet 

Teru Hidaka, Chairman, Yamaichi Securities Company, Ltd. 
*Kazushige Hirasawa, Radio-TV news commentator, Japan Broadcasting Inc. 

Hideo Hon, President, Employment Promotion Project Corporation 

Shozo Hotta, Chairman, Sumitomo Bank, Ltd. 

Shinichi Ichimura, Professor of Economics, Kyoto University 

Hiroki Imazato, President, Nippon Seiko K.K. 

Yoshihiro Inayama, Chairman, Nippon Steel Corporation 

Kaoru Inoue, Chairman, Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Ltd. 

Rokuro Ishikawa, Executive Vice President, Kajima Corporation 

Tadao Ishikawa, Professor, Department of Political Science, Keio University 

Yoshizane Iwasa, Chairman of the Advisory Committee, Fuji Bank, Ltd. 

MotooKaji, Professor of Economics, Tokyo University 

Fuji Kamiya, Professor, Keio University 

*Yusuke Kashiwagi, Deputy President, Bank of Tokyo, Ltd.; former Special 
Advisor to the Minister of Finance 

Ryoichi Kawai, President, Komatsu Seisakusho, Ltd. 

Katsuji Kawamata, Chairman, Nissan Motor Company, Ltd. 

Kazutaka Kikawada, Chairman, Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. 

Kiichiro Kitaura, President, Nomura Securities Company, Ltd. 

Koji Kobayashi, President, Nippon Electric Company, Ltd. 

Kenichiro Komai, Chairman, Hitachi, Ltd. 

Fumihiko Kono, Counselor, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. 

Masataka Kosaka, Professor, Faculty of Law, Kyoto University 

Fumihiko lAakijPrincipal Partner, Maki and Associates, Design, Planning and 

Shigeharu Matsumoto, Chairman, International House of Japan, Inc. 

Masaharu Matsushita, President, Matsushita Electric Company, Ltd. 
tKiichi Miyazawa, Minister of Foreign Affairs 

Akio Morita, President, SONY Corporation 

Takashi Mukaibo, Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Tokyo University 
*Kinhide Mushakoji, Director, Institute of International Relations, Sophia University 

Yonosuke Nagai, Professor of Political Science, Tokyo Institute of Technology 

Shigeo Nagano, President, Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry 


Eiichi Nagasue, Member of the Diet 

Toshio Nakamura, President, Mitsubishi Bank, Ltd. 

Ichiro Nakayama, President, Janpa Institute of Labor 

Sohei Nakayama, President, Overseas Technical Cooperation Agency 

Yoshihisa Ohjimi, Advisor, Arabian Oil Company, Ltd.; former Administrative 

Vice Minister of International Trade and Industry 
*Saburo Okita, President, Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund 

Kiichi Saeki, Director, Nomura Research Institute of Technology and Economics 

Kunihiko Sasaki, Chairman, Fuji Bank, Ltd 

*Ryuji Takeuchi, Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; former Ambassador 
to the United States 

Eiji Toyoda, President, Toyota Motor Company, Ltd. 

Seiji Tsutsumi, President, Seibu Department Store, Inc. 

Kogoro Uemura, Honorary President, Japan Federation of Economic 
Organizations (Keidanren) 

Tadao Umezao, Professor of Ethnology, Kyoto University 
*Nobuhiko Ushiba, Former Ambassador of Japan to the United States 

Jiro Ushio, President, Ushio Electric Inc. 

Shogo Watanabe, President, Nikko Securities Company, Ltd. 
♦Takeshi Watanabe-, Chairman, Trident International Finance, Ltd., Hong Kong; 
former President, the Asian Development Bank 

Kizo Yasui, Chairman, Toray Industries, Inc. 

'Executive Committee 
•(•Currently in Government Service 


Michel J. Crozier is the founder and director of the Centre de Soci- 
ologie des Organisations in Paris, France as well as Senior Research 
Director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. He is a 
regular consultant to the French government on matters of economic 
planning, education and public administration and has, since 1964, 
spent several semesters as a visiting Professor at Harvard University. He 
is the author of numerous important works in sociology his "La Societe 
Bloquee" having been translated as "The Stalled Society" by Viking 
Press in 1973. Prof. Crozier was President of the Societe Francaise de 
Sociologie in 1970-72. 

Samuel P. Huntington is Frank G. Thomson Professor of Government 
at Harvard University and Associate Director of the Center for Interna- 
tional Affairs at Harvard, as well as editor of the quarterly journal, 
Foreign Policy. He is a Fellow on the American Academy of Arts and 
Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the 
International Institute of Strategic Studies. He was a member of the 
Council of the American Political Science Association (1969-1971) 
and a member of the Presidential Task Force on International Develop- 
ment (1969 - 1970), among many other high level posts. Another of his 
books appearing this year is "No Easy Choice: Political Participation in 
Developing Countries," co-authored with Joan M. Nelson. 

Joji Watanuki is Professor of Sociology at Sophia University in 
Tokyo, Japan. Positions he has held include: Senior Scholar, Communi- 
cation Institute, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii; Professor, Insti- 
tute of International Relations, Sophia University, Tokyo; Rockefeller 
Foundation Fellow and Visiting Fellow at Princeton University; and 
Research Associate at the Institute of International Studies, University 
of California, Berkeley. He is the author of numerous studies in 
political sociology, published in Japan. 

Jacket design by Paul Agule & Cato Johnson Associates